Bears don pads for first time in spring practice

Chuck Allen is a former coach who recently retired after more than thirty years of coaching. He was a Graduate Assistant under former Baylor Coach John Bridgers (1959-1968). Chuck was also a recruiting aide to former Head Coach Grant Teaff (1972-1992), back when that sort of thing was allowed. Chuck is able to get out to practice once in awhile and was able to observe Saturday's practice with some other fans. They are the "we" in his 11-point report. All I wrote was this introduction.

1) Our players are INDEED leaner, harder and trying. All eight of us hope that increased team speed and agility will be able to at least equalize superior size and strength which most of the Big 12 opponents will probably enjoy against us.

2) Just as Coach Morriss said after the first day in shorts, these players are rather worried about not measuring up to the requirements of the new staff. Coach John Goodner in particular gets furious if he feels they are slacking back even a little bit....and even in that instance we observers thought they were working hard. I guess that simply means our standards had been influenced too much by what we'd been watching in recent years. I think back....and I think this is true - hard work by overweight guys LOOKS like successful practice, though it is not, but hard work by 'in shape' guys looks like football!

3) We saw some super receptions by Trent Shelton, J Fields, and John Martin. We saw Larry Bynum break on the ball at least twice to pick off passes and return them quite a few yards. We saw running backs Paul Mosley, Anthony Krieg, Jonathan Evans looking good.....and so did Jonathan Golden, for that matter.

4) Coach Tom Adams is right in the midst of the five available DT's all the time. He's trying to convince them that they have what it takes....but only if their techniques are perfect. I like what I saw when Luke Groth was working and Lorenzo Davis is better than last year by quite a bit. That doesn't mean he's 'good', though. Michael Gary gets after it just as hard as he did prior to last year's knee injury. I don't believe it was a terribly terrible injury. GOOD! Julian Hill is the one getting lots of 'friendly help' more than the other four. He tries harder after each lesson, which tells me he really wants to play. Ian Bracken is simply too small at 230 to be in the DL, but that's the fifth guy there right now. I talked to Corey Ford, who was observing the DL drills rather intently, and he seems totally embarrassed about not being in uniform. He nodded his head when I asked if he would be able to get it all together and begin playing again. Hope so. He's around 275.

5) There are five OL 'out' right now. Don't know why Randy Cornejo didn't suit up today. They say Akeem Rettig has pneumonia. He hasn't practiced at all this week. Jacob Pitman is one of the academic 'outs' for a while, but Travis Farst got his knee bunged up late in today's practice. It didn't look greatly serious, but any knee 'thingee' is serious. Glen Oskin was firing out hard and blocking rather well at the tackle position(s). By the way, all the OL are being tried on either side of the center for both run and pass plays. There's lots of 'testing' going on. LaQualon McDonald and Travis Farst seemed to be the primary guards all day....then Farst got hurt. Another OG is Gavin McKinley (6'4" 262 Freshman-RS from Amarillo HS). Brad Schleuter played hard today, I thought. He's listed at 6'4" 277 and a junior with one letter earned. Quintin Outland had a tough time blocking the new JC defensive end, Montez Murphy. That guy is huge and powerful! I love the fact he's only a sophomore, too.

6) The linebackers have mucho to learn, but they're paying close attention. Wish I was impressed with their physical qualities more than I was today. However, Michael Tolbert is more trim and moving better than ever....IMO. Colin Allred is getting big. The younger Sepulveda (Daniel....#37) is catching my eye constantly. Maybe he's a player to watch rather seriously. Wanted to see James Washington out there, but he's one of the seven academics. Justin Crooks is a solid looking LB, but not a faster than average one. He's very savvy, though, very savvy.

7) The first thing the team worked on on the other days...was special teams. How's that for a good thing to learn? Then they went into VERY ACTIVE and QUICK agility drills. It was fun to watch those, folks. Impressive stuff they learned during the off-season conditioning program.

8) The QBs were alternated in this order during the live passing drill - Aaron Karas, Davon Vinson, Shawn Bell, and Chris Neilson. All were releasing the ball very quickly on quick drops. I stood next to Coach Brent Pease's father-in-law and learned how much our offensive coordinator loves the game. Brent also told his father-in-law that he believes 'the talent is here, but certainly needs training.' I believe that is true, too. The lads will be getting it. Vinson is very determined. That is obvious. They all are.

9) The defenders were not allowed to make 'game-style-tackles'. They 'popped 'em and controlled 'em'....but they ran fast to the ball carriers. Real fast. I'm anxious to see the first scrimmage.

10) The tenacity of the receivers to catch every pass thrown is good. Coach Jackson has their attention and they seem excited to be learning from an all-pro receiver.

11) I know, I know....don't get "pollyanish," WarriorBear. I won't. Don't know if this bunch can win a game. I do think they'll play much faster and with agile bodies like we've not seen in years and years. I just don't know if they'll be able to stop a powerful team which wants to run the ball. Lack of size is my concern. I do like the fact that we can actually see that the OL guys are not big ole blubber boys any more. They are definitely showing positive effects from John William's work with them. It's about time!

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