Before giving any of my "thoughts", I'll mention that following the practice I was able to have some short but private chats with Coaches Lancaster, Carr, Jackson and Morriss. I appreciated the fact that they seemed to be honestly glad to talk with me. I guess my helping SID Scott Strickland pass out rosters to all the spectators is finally paying off a bit - heh,heh. Well, what did those coaches say?
Each said that we're gonna get this thing done (turn this program around). Each also said that they realize the players have their heads swimming somewhat because of all the "stuff" being tossed at them. Then, each said the players are trying to 'come along' really well, although a few still need to lose more weight. Three of the four mentioned that we're kind of thin at some positions. My thinking was that this was also Coach Morriss' primary thought. Finally, each gave me a sincere feeling of being glad to be at Baylor. That's important to me, which they certainly realized, but they really did seem sincere.
Coach Morriss told me that we have a new defensive tackle candidate. This young man was prowling the sidelines during practice. He is a Coffeyville, Kansas Junior College transfer named R T Robinson (though I may have misunderstood and it may be M T) and he's originally from Virginia, or possibly Coach Morriss said West Virginia. I also understand that the 6'1" 290 pounder with very broad shoulders will have three years of eligibility. His grade work troubles are all okay now. Coach didn't say anything about his speed/quickness, but did make special mention of his strength. He looked real strong to me, though he was wearing a big parka-style coat in the chilly and breezy day. This news made me happy, I can tell you, though the DT's who scrimmaged today were doing a fairly good job, I thought. Keep in mind, we also got Montez Murphy from Coffeyville.
This was a "broken scrimmage." In other words, they merely put in occasional "sessions" of scrimmage work in the midst of normal drills and practice events. For example, there would be some real football, then the various units would separate and go work on their particular phases of the game. Later, the squads would be reunited and would scrimmage again. Honestly, I've never seen it done this way at any time in my life. I've only seen straight scrimmaging until the end of that practice session. It was interesting to see corrections being made after one segment before proceeding to the next.
The defense FINALLY got to tackle runners and receivers, but I don't think those yellow jersies are on the QBs by accident. No QB was hit, though they did get their arms pinned at times. I saw Davon Vinson demonstrate some remarkable strength by completing a short pass despite a DL (from behind) pulling his passing arm down at the time.
The defensive line is better than the OL at this time, but I'm hoping it's because defense is "always" ahead of offense this early, especially with a new offensive coordinator. Then again, the intensity displayed by the DL may be able to sustain those guys from now on, and I sure liked that aspect!
The starting DTs were Luke Groth(84) and Lorenzo Davis(53). Michael Gary (92) and Julian Hill (93) seemed to be close on their heels, though. DT Corey Ford (54) was on the sidelines, as were all the non-uniformed seven sitting out due to academics. I could tell he is itching to get back in there.
I spoke with Ford, OLB James Washington (49), WR Charlie Radford (22) and OL Jacob Pitman (66). According to those four, they'd be practicing next week. I'm not as sure about RB Rashad Armstrong (32), TE Iris Williams ((83) or WR J. T. Thompson (1). I hope so, for everybody's sake.
DE Montez Murphy (wearing #95 today, #90 on the roster sheet) is hustling a lot! He zipped into the backfield once and knocked down a flare pass to a RB. It was a great defensive play. Other defensive players I noticed making big plays (despite my happy chats) included Larry Bynum (16) and Stephen Sepulveda (42), who teamed-up to get an interception. Larry tipped it and Stephen grabbed it and returned it all the way for a TD. James Todd (#29 today, #36 on the roster sheet) made a solid play late in the second session, too. I noticed Anthony Arline (41) covering lots of ground on a regular basis. He was playing CB a lot, too. If we can develop tall CBs the defense will be better, because most teams love for short CBs to try and cover tall wide-outs, and Arline can fly.
Oh!?! Speaking of "noticing." I didn't see Jonathan Golden(4), nor Randy Cornejo(63) in uniform today. Maybe they're hurt. I just don't know.
The offensive line seems to be stacking up like this right now; RT is Glen Oskin (79), RG is LaQualan McDonald (77), C is Cedric Fields (#78 the last few days, #76 on the roster sheet), LG seems to be Joseph DeWoody (75) and LT Quintin Outland(74).
Akeem Rettig (71) was also "in there" quite a bit, as well as others such as Travis Farst (67), Chris Rogers (65), Brad Schleuter (64) and Gavin McKinley (60). I think that Franklin Patterson (62) was involved, as well. These fellas have lots of work to do. They scare me right now, but Coach Morriss said much of their trouble is because "they're thinking more than reacting right now. They'll get better." I had the feeling he wanted to say 'or else', but he didn't.
Anthony Kreig (30) is, in my opinion, the best "total-package" RB I saw today. His churning legs never stop until he's FIRMLY tackled. His feet are quicker, by quite a bit, that last year. He certainly catches flare, swing, and other passes better than the other backs. Of course, neither Armstrong, nor Golden played today, so the bulk of the plays were by Kreig and Paul Mosley (17). Paul ran hard and "big," but needs improvement at pass receiving. Jonathan Evans (45) is just plain impressive. He's so huge at 253 pounds, yet so much more sleek-looking in the legs. His improved conditioning and hitting on blocking assignments is very encouraging. Coach Carr got on him pretty hard for turning to the inside instead of the outside after catching a hook pass, though. Hey! That's coaching and learning!
The linebackers were very active in the scrimmage. I think that Michael Tolbert (58) stood out to me better than ever before in the two years I've watched these things. He's lost a "spare tire" from around his belly and to me looks much like Greg Wade did the past two seasons. Justin Crooks (46) always plays a solid game, as he did again today.
What about the quarterbacks? Well, Aaron Karas (2) is number one with Vinson (7) next. Third spot is possibly Neilson (5) now. Not sure. The offense did not appear all that productive to me. A few passes were caught and a couple of runs were good, but it was a defensively-dominated scrimmage, though.
I told Coach Morriss that I love the way my 'top 3 areas of concern' seem to be the areas which are improving the fastest. He thanked me and agreed. Hope it wasn't merely PR chat, though. What are those three areas? 1) Physical conditioning of the squad - he patted his belly and said, "We'll all be flat bellies by the first game." 2) Receivers who really run good routes and go after every pass with a "near desperation" to catch them. 3) Improvements in the kicking game. All three are definitely being worked on - HARD