Fall Camp Day 4

After a day away from the media and fans, Wildcat fall camp was back under the public eye. Like the previous few practices, this one was another balanced affair.

One aspect of this camp has been the very balanced competition between the offense and defense. Although each has had their moments, neither has had a decided advantage over the other.

Impressions position by position:

Quarterback: It was a good day for Willie Tuitama. Unofficially he was 11-18 in 11-on-11 drills, with three of the incompletions coming on drops. His deep ball looked far better than it did in the spring. He really seems to have adjusted to airing it out on the quick drop. Of the six or so deep passes he threw, only one was not close to the intended receiver.

Tyler Lyon received the other reps on the night. The Cats are alternating between Lyon and Kris Heavner at the No. 2 quarterback spot. The redshirt freshman was 2-4, with a drop and a near interception in limited action.

Running back: Chris Jennings and Xavier Smith still continue to get the bulk of the work. Smith had maybe his best day of camp. Although there is no full contact, he had a run that would have gone for a touchdown regardless. It was a slow developing handoff, but the line held their blocks and Smith patiently allowed his holes to open before scooting untouched into the defensive backfield.

Both backs are being used in a variety of ways, as runners, receivers and blocker.

Wide Receivers: Ever so slowly the cream seems to be rising to the top. It is getting more and more obvious that a top tier. Mike Thomas, Anthony Johnson, Terrell Turner and Terrell Reese had most of the passes thrown their way. Add B.J. Dennard, Delashaun Dean, Rod Rivera and Mike Turner to the mix and there have been very few reps for anyone else.

Thomas had a very interesting sequence. Just one play after dropping a very easy pass, the junior made a spectacular catch on the right sideline. Tyler Lyon hung up a deep ball and Thomas pulled it in while falling down and out of bounds.

Reese and Turner did a real nice job stretching the field. Reese especially got behind defenders, but could not haul tough passes in. One was clearly overthrown while another jarred loose late.

Tight End: While a number of players have been shuttled in and out, it has been Rob Gronkowski who has seen the most balls thrown his way. Unfortunately the lone ball thrown his way on 11-on-11's was dropped. Despite the bad play, his size and athleticism have been as advertised.

Defensive Line With the team still in shells, it is still a bit tough to tell who is getting the best of who. It has been obvious that neither side of the ball has dominated the other.

On Sunday night the line finished things off in fine fashion by sacking Tuitama. Although Johnathan Turner got credit for the sack, Lionel Dotson did a great job putting pressure on Tuitama and forcing him Turner's way.

Deaundre Reed has a great first step. He quickly gets into the offensive backfield, but has trouble forcing his way to the quarterback. If he can start using his speed to not only get deep, but get to the quarterback, watch out!

Linebackers: The linebacking corps is very solid, but the big play of the night was Spencer Larsen's. Jennings caught a screen pass deep in the backfield but barely turned around before he was planted by the waiting Larsen.

In 7-on-7 drills Ronnie Palmer hauled in a tipped Tuitama pass for a pick, while Xavier Kelley intercepted Lyon.

Defensive Backs: True freshman Trevin Wade was all over the field Sunday night. He had a few pass break-ups and seemed to be around the action quite a bit.

However, it was Marquis Hundley who had the lone pick of the 11-on-11 session. Tuitama threw a timing pattern to the corner of the endzone, but Hundley got inside position on the receiver and came down with the ball.

Junior Nate Ness sprained his ankle and was held out of the end of practice. He is expected to return soon.

Notes:

*Former Wildcat offensive lineman Tanner Bell was on hand along with his parents. Younger brother Travis is still on the team.

*Cory Elmore was on hand as well. He recently had hear surgery and spoke to the media about his health.


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