Monday, August 13-Practice Report & Extras

It was the first day at Higher Ground, and Bearcat Insider was there to see as much of the action as possible. Today, comments by Coach Kelly are included with the report.

The first day at Higher Ground under Coach Kelly is now officially in the books, and there were some new developments that a Bearcat football fan won't find anywhere but here.


-There were actually some tough choices today, but my "Quote of the Day" goes to Coach Longo.  If you've been following these reports, you know there have been some unusual player haircuts this summer.  Today Leo Morgan had a shaved head on top but had hair on the sides and back of his head.  He actually looked like a balding old man.  Longo's comment as he hugged Leo was, "That's a look people would pay tons of money NOT to have."


-Wesley Richardson (S) from Olentangy Liberty High School was added to the 105 man roster today.  Coach Kelly says Wes is a good player and excellent student.  Caleb Lipsey from Sycamore High School was expected to be added but so far has been unable to get released from his letter of intent to Murray State.  Coach Kelly said they expect to hear about Lipsey by Wednesday.  If he isn't released from Murray State, he will not be able to practice with the Bearcats this year, but he is enrolled at Cincinnati.


-Marty Gilyard took a spot with the #1 wide receivers.  Marty is as talented as any skill player on the roster.  Coach Kelly also likes the nomadic David Wess as a wideout.  "I like what David is doing.  We've tried to move him around a little bit, but he needs to stay at one position.  But he definitely has some skills after he catches the football.  It's tough for him to play consistently because he still doesn't know the offense very well.  I'm pleased with him, and we need to keep Marty healthy.  He's always got a little bang here or there.  If we can keep him healthy, he competes hard when he's out there, and he's really a gifted player." 


-The question was asked on our message board this week about whether or not Tony Pike could physically hold-up after running the football.  The staff apparently has no concerns about Pike running the ball.  In fact, they were pleased to see how elusive he's been in the pocket.  Also the staff had Pike's throwing numbers at 9 for 11 on Saturday, and one of Pike's incomplete passes occurred when the receivers ran the wrong routes, and Tony had to throw the ball away.


-Pike once again took the first snaps, but here's what Coach Kelly had to say about his quarterback situation.  "I think by the end of the week we could get there, but we're not there yet to eliminate anybody.  It's pretty close, but clearly Pike has gotten first team reps, and then it's a battle.  Pike is a little bit ahead of everybody, but we still don't now who's 2, 3 and 4.  I think we can get there by the end of the week."


-A change on the #2 offensive line was Mario Duenas moved up to the right guard spot replacing C. J. Cobb.  Also Connor Barwin was with the #1 offense at tight end, but Earnest Jackson wasn't at practice either.  I have more on that situation later in the report.


-After battling a hamstring injury for several days, Ryan Manalac worked out with the walking wounded today.  That meant Andre Revels took over the #1 middle linebacker job.


-Tahree McQueen moved from defensive back to wide receiver today.  Last spring, several of the position coaches said they'd like to have him.


-Dominick Goodman was in full gear but was limited in what he did in practice.


-Earnest Jackson was not at practice in order to be with his family, but he was expected to return to the team tonight.  Earnest's father is ill, and if you're a person of faith, you may want to remember Earnest Jackson Sr. when you hit your knees tonight.


-Mike Windt, the redshirt freshman from Elder, seems to be the frontrunner at long snapper.


-Coach Kelly seems to see virtually EVERYTHING at practice.  The guy has amazed me.  I asked him about that ability.  "I think 17 years of being a head coach helps.  I think you just learn and know what needs to be addressed at what time.  I think it's my job.  When we hit the field, I better know what's going on."  He definitely keeps EVERYONE on his toes.


-I think Kurt Shoemaker and Charley Howard are excellent walk-on receivers.  Coach Kelly spoke to their chances of seeing the playing field this year.  "I think right now if we were to put the bus (traveling squad) together, they'd both have a pretty good shot at getting on the bus.  I think Charley first and Shoe second because Charley's on a couple of special teams.  Both have done a nice job; they're reliable.  No, we're not going to win the Big East with four of those guys, but they can be role players for us.  The nice part about it is I think they know their role."


-Coach Dantonio split the special team assignments among his staff, but Coach Kelly has Mike Elston coordinate all special teams for him.  I never understood why a coach would want to split up the different special teams, and after you watch Mike Elston work, it further drives that point home.


-Corey Smith dropped an easy interception today in the 7-on-7.


-Dustin Grutza had one of the better throws of the day in the 7-on-7 when he hit Ben Guidugli up the seam for a very nice gain.


-Haruku Nakamura got two interceptions today.  He made a nice leaping interception of a Tony Pike throw and followed it with another one from Dustin Grutza.  In all fairness to Dustin, I would have flagged Cedric Tolbert on the interception for interference which led directly to the Haruki's pick.


-Ben Mauk hit Charley Howard down the sideline with a 35 yard ball that would have ended in a touchdown.


-Lamonte Nelms got snaps with the #1 defense in place of Angelo Craig, but Coach Kelly said Craig hasn't really been replaced.  "I don't know if Lamonte replaced Angelo.  Angelo has never been a 72 play player, and he's not going to be.  He's a senior.  He's a #1 and Lamonte Nelms is a #1.  I said there was a big dropoff between the #2 and #1 groups, but what I meant was our #2's are our #1's as well.  The big dropoff is when you're playing your 3's and freshmen.  We have more depth than I've ever had.  We have five linebackers, and if you count Odadiah Cheatham, who had a great week of practice last week, we have six inside backers, eight defensive linemen, three corners and four safeties.  We've got a lot of depth on that side of the ball, and we need it.  Hoke's never played a whole game.  Byrd's never played a whole game.  We need that kind of depth."


-Terrill Byrd showed his athleticism when he got into the flat and broke-up a swing pass.


-True freshman defensive back, Deon Reed, was held out of practice today as the NCAA investigates a core class from high school.  The NCAA is investigating if two of Deon's core classes were too similar.  UC has documentation from the high school that the two classes are different and are confident the ruling will be in Deon's favor.  Bearcat fans may not be as confident when it comes to the NCAA, especially after what happened with Jamar Howard and Brandon Miller last year.


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