Monday, August 6th-Practice Report

It was another extremely hot day on the Field Turf of Nippert Stadium, but Bearcat Insider was there to see much of the action.

The squad was once again in helmets and shoulder pads, and the 90+ degree temperature took more than one player's breath away.


-Ben Mauk had a sore elbow and was held out of most of the drills.  He threw very, very little today.


-Marty Gilyard (WR) was on the field and in gear, but he also was held out of most drills.


-John Goebel had a new and somewhat better look today.  He called it a Mohican haircut.  I think Dave got a picture of it.  Believe it or not, it looks light years better than yesterday's hairdo.


Goebel's New Haircut


-Joey Thomas, son of Cincinnati athletics' director Mike Thomas, has mononucleosis and has been unable to practice.  Joey had put on about 20-25 pounds since playing last season at Indian Hill, and at 6' 2" and 205 pounds, he felt he was ready to compete on the college level.  Now he's in a wait-and-see mode until the doctors clear him to practice.  It'll probably be another week or so before he'll get cleared.


-One of the freshman defensive backs (who will remain nameless) got a bit aggressive with a teammate during a drill.  Before things escalated into a fight, Coach Coombs was right in the middle of it.  Coach Coombs made it very clear to the freshman that his behavior was not wanted, and a lesson was learned.


-Some people criticized Coach Kelly when he complained about a lack of local coverage for Big East Media Day, but there has been plenty of media coverage for practices.  A couple television stations were present just yesterday, and there has been no shortage of writers each day.


-Coach Kelly was even more vocal today during practice.  He really gets after people. 


-The big play in the one-on-one drill was a Tony Pike to Jared Martin 40 yard touchdown pass with Brandon Underwood covering.


-I didn't see any interceptions during the one-on-one drill, but Anthony Williams and Brad Jones each dropped balls that probably should have been intercepted.


-There is usually some tweaking of the depth chart each day to see how guys play with the #1 unit.  Today Khalil El-Amin got a lot of reps for Jeff Linkenbach at right tackle.  Jason Kelce saw a lot of action with the first group at center.


-In the 7-on 7 drill, Craig Carey was fortunate not to be picked off a couple of times.  The big play in the drill was when Zach Collaros connected with Charley Howard for a long gain against the #3 defense.  I left the 7-on-7 early to watch the O-line vs. D-line.



-Once again there was a lot of action in the pass rush/pass defense drill.  Angelo Craig showed again today how tough he is to block.  Freshman Sam Griffin had another good day for the offensive linemen, but Trevor Canfield really struggled.  I saw both Lemonte Nelms and Adam Hopple just blow by Trevor today.  Hoppel also used a nice swim move to get past Ken Rodriguez, but Ken stymied sophomore Ricardo Mathews in their match-up.  I thought back-up players C. J. Cobb looked good for the offense, and Ralston Reeves was effective for the defense.  Rob Trigg had some good results again today, and Anthony Hoke probably got the better of Digger Bujnoch in their match.  Blake McCroskey had a good result against fellow freshman John Hughes, and Jon Newton proved tough to block for Jason Kelce.


-In the 11-on-11 part of practice, we had the exact opposite result of what happened yesterday.  Today Antwuan Giddens was able to pull in a long pass from Dustin Grutza despite good coverage by Mike Mickens.  Also, DeAngelo Smith picked off a deflected ball from Dustin Grutza.


-Tony Pike looked to be the #2 option at quarterback today, but I believe Dustin Grutza still has a very comfortable lead in that QB competition.


Today's interview was with Coach Kelly.  The media coverage has been better than at any time in the last three years so Coach Kelly was asked if that was the result he had in mind when he criticized the media for its lack of coverage of the Cincinnati program.  He replied, "It was not my intention to ruffle anyone's feathers.  I don't go out of my way to get people upset.  No one wants to be put in that situation.  As I evaluated this as a CEO, I saw some things that needed to be addressed.  They happened to be hot button topics at the time.  Hopefully, I'll be able to address some less controversial topics as we go.  I'm not out to intentionally do that.  I've just been at this long enough that I'm not going to dance around it.  I'm going to feel comfortable saying it and taking the criticism."


Next Coach Kelly was asked how he and his staff have managed to secure sixteen verbal commitments this early in the recruiting process.  "Our assistant coaches are why we have sixteen.  They're experienced, and most have been with me a long time.  They know exactly what we're looking for.  We're not going through the aisles unsure of what we need.  When we go down the aisles, we know we're looking for this or looking for that.  Not everyone likes the kids we like, and that's fine.  That's recruiting, and we'll find out in a few years how successful we've been.  I know at Central Michigan our two classes were ranked last in the MAC, and we did okay.  We know what we're looking for."


The original number for recruits in 2008 was eighteen, but that number has changed.  "We could get close to twenty-five.  We've lost a couple players that we may or may not replace on scholarship right now.  But we could get close to that twenty-five number."


So what positions are the Bearcats still looking to fill?  "Right now our focus is on wide receiver, and we need guys coming off the edge, a pass rusher.  We'll probably also take an inside guy, a defensive tackle."


Finally, we talked about the strategy of scheduling with an eye on qualifying for one of the thirty-two bowl games.  "Primarily the philosophy with the five (OOC) games is to play as many as you can at home. We'd like to play a (Division) IAA and a top 10 team then your local rivalries like a Miami or Akron.  I am committed to playing Miami of Ohio."  We also discussed the games being scheduled against west coast teams.  "ESPN and the BCS matched us up with Oregon State.  Right now you can't get into the Big Ten because they're going to play the MAC.  We can't get Indiana, which we'd like to do geographically, and Kentucky won't play us because they're playing Louisville so where do we go?  The Pac 10 was the most accessible for us along with the Big 12.  We're looking at getting that nicer match-up."   

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