It was a drizzly, cool morning and the first day for full gear. A couple television stations were present. I think I saw Channels 9 and 12 represented.
-I ran into Bearcat track coach Bill Schnier as I went into Nippert Stadium this morning. We briefly talked about John Bowie and then about the possibility of other UC football players participating in track in the future. Coach Schnier said this is a new thing for him since prior to Coach Dantonio's arrival, the UC football coach's attitude was "What's mine is mine."
-Doug Jones was again with the offensive linemen. He ran mostly with the second team. I watched these guys quite a bit today. Here's what I see. I think Digger Bujnoch is seen as the clear #1 at right tackle with J. P. Simon as the back-up. I believe Trevor Canfield is taking ownership of that right guard spot with Jon Tobin as the replacement. Now it gets a bit more unclear. Mario Duenas looks to be the leader at center, but Chris Flores isn't too far behind. The left guard job has a number of candidates. Senior Jeff Reinstatler seems to be presently leading, but both Frank Straub and Doug Jones are definitely in the picture. The left tackle spot is just as murky. Jeremy Bolton was with the #1 unit again today, but Jeff Linkenbach and Frank Straub are closing the gap. In fact, I think Linkenbach is very close to taking the lead. Jeremy Bolton is big, strong and tough, but he's shown on several occasions that he really struggles to block the quicker defensive ends. Jon Tobin was helping Doug Jones after practice with his technique. If Jones doesn't take the lead for that left guard spot within the next week, I believe Doug will return to fullback. This is all my opinion, and you can take it for what it's worth.
-Punting was terribly inconsistent today. I saw way too many 30-35 yard punts. I would give Huber the slight edge today, but both Kevin and Brian Steele were too inconsistent. Incidentally, Brian Steele seems to be the #1 holder for field goals. I didn't think Kevin Lovell had as good a spring as he's capable of having, but he's been pretty solid so far this summer.
NOTE FROM DAVE BERK
Talking with Kevin Lovell about the holders spot. He worked with Steele all summer and went to the coaches and asked for Steele to be his all-time holder. As Kevin put it. "With Dustin always busy we never really had a chance to work together. Now during practice Brian and I can work all we want because we're on the same schedule."
-One of the new drills today that caused quite a bit of excitement was the "board drill." The coaches pit the defense against the offense. They match up positions like receiver vs. cornerback; running back vs. linebacker; offensive guard vs. defensive tackle. The offensive player and the defensive player straddle the board, and the object is to drive your opponent backwards down the board. Trevor Anderson was a beast, and even Brent Celek couldn't get the better of the big sophomore. There are about six or seven groups going at the same time so it's difficult to see all of them, but I did make note of a few. Earnest Jackson was maybe the toughest of the receivers, and "true" freshman John Goebel saw that every day won't go as well as yesterday. Ryan Manalac really handled the talented, young running back in their match. In the end, there were two featured match-ups. Trevor Anderson vs. Trevor Canfield and Terrill Byrd vs. Frank Straub. Canfield beat Anderson, and Byrd beat Straub.
-The #1 group of linebackers was the same as yesterday-Manalac, McCullough, and Morgan. Andre (Popeye) Revels missed most of practice due to a hamstring problem from yesterday. Let's hope it's not serious. He's one of the best special team guys and has been working himself up the depth chart.
-One of the better walk-ons that I've noticed is Collin McCafferty from Kings High School. Collin's a tough kid, and has a chance to follow other walk-ons like Kevin McCullough, Tony Carvitti and Evan Sparks in earning a scholarship. A lot of players expect to earn that scholarship right away, and when they don't, they leave the program. But a few special young men, like the ones I've named, stick to the plan and eventually realize their dream. I believe Ryan Manalac will be the next walk-on to earn a scholarship.
-In today's "inside drill," Hoke and Anderson again caused problems with their quickness. The #1 D-line hasn't changed with Anderson, Byrd, Carvitti and Hoke. The #2 group is tougher to pin down but looks like it could be Ricardo Matthews/Lamonte Nelms, Adam Hoppel, Thomas Claggett, and Curtis Young/Angelo Craig.
-Lenix is getting reps with the #2 group at MLB, but Jon Carpenter (OLB) always calls the plays in the huddle. Freddie looks a bit lost on occasions. Narduzzi's defense is not simple so Freddie's got a lot to learn.
-Derrick Stewart looks so natural and comfortable fielding punts. He judges the ball well and has very soft hands. I haven't seen him catch one punt against his pads or even bobble it.
-Jared Martin used his speed to block a punt today and almost got a second one.
-Dustin Grutza continues to throw the ball more downfield. He hit Celek and then Poland on nice gains of 20-30 yards.
-As usual, the practice ended with a couple of two minute drills. The #2 offense went against the #1 defense. Davila was 5 for 7 in the drive with mostly short passes. Nick hit Kazeem Alli a couple of times for 1st downs. He also hit Earnest Jackson and Josh Brown for 1st downs. The drive ended with a Brandon Yingling 33 yard field goal as time ran out.
The #1 offense against the #2 defense went last. Grutza was 2 for 4 and had 15 -20 yard completions to Poland and Goodman. Goodman's catch went for much more but was blown dead too early. Lovell hit a 29 yard field goal to end practice.