Day Two Notes

Here are some notes from Wednesday practice with the Bearcats.

The Bearcats along the offensive line are improved in their second season with Jeff Quinn.  But more work and movement will continue as the spring goes on.  What I like is the improved look (body) done by the off-season work of Paul Longo and the strength staff with each of the guys.  While the staff loves Jason Kelce and his athletic ability and Trevor Canfield isn’t going anywhere,  it’s hard to ignore the improved play of C.J. Cobb who is showing improved quickness and the desire to not only play, but to be one of the top on the line.  Cobb if he continues will find a place along the line.


During one-on-one drills Cobb went after it and showed he’ll be one to watch when pads get put on and the real hitting starts.  This is a great thing for the Bearcats and Cobb is he can continue his early showing.  One thing Jeff Quinn is not afraid to do is make changes along the line and Cobb may push his hand in shifting the line around before the spring is over.


Another player on Wednesday who I’ve been critical of in the past is showing he knows it his last go around.  Khalil El-Amin learned a lot off the field and now he is showing his desire to make his senior season his best.  The Cincinnati native knows he better keep it in gear or one of the younger Bearcats could place him on the bench for his senior season.


One area of disappointment is the weight gain of Sam Griffin.  The New Jersey native may never be one to hit the 300-pound status and that is fine with me, but to still be at 230-pounds could see the Bearcats make a position change or consider a redshirt if he comes to camp in August as thin.  In the spread offense you can play lighter but 230-pounds is just too light.  If he was in the 260 range I feel much better.


First Spring Jitters


Michigan native Deon Reed misunderstood the defensive coaches on Wednesday and provided a little insight into how nervous a player can be in his first spring.  Reed who didn’t run to the receiver heard from two of the Bearcats coaches how he needed to run.  While the coaches were talking about him running to the receiver the defensive back started to run a lap around the field only to have the coaches looking for him in the next series of plays before one of them told him he wasn’t in junior high anymore.


Feeling His Way


Brandon Underwood has all the physical tools you want and on Wednesday made an interception during drills.  But don’t be fooled by one interception, the Hamilton native still has a lot to work on and compared to his veteran counterparts Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith must work hard on his press coverage and staying with the receiver.  Keep in mind the work a player gets on a scout team is different than what he’ll get in camp and I expect major improvement as the spring continues.


Shaking Off The Rust

Brian Kelly and John Goebel each said the sophomore running back is shaking off the rust that came from redshirting last season.  Goebel who showed the ability to hold onto the football during his true freshman year has had a few drops and heard from Coach Kelly the importance of not putting the ball on the turf.  When asked the always smiling Goebel expressed he feels some of the rust but is also seeing it flake off during each practice.  Much like Underwood the type of reps you take as a member of the scout team is different than the ones you take with the first or second squad.


Soft Hands


Several guys on the offensive side are showing some great hands.  The one player who has really stood out is sophomore Ben Guidugli.  While he still is rough on his routes and hand placement he still is finding a way to bring in the pass for positive yardage.


Another player with a huge upside is Armon Binns who has shown the ability to make the hard catch.  The problem is he sometimes drops the routine balls when it hurts the most.  This must change for the staff to show the trust needed to be on the field in the crunch.


Much has been said about Adrien Robinson and I’ll be the first to say what needs to be said.  Robinson is a major talent but not at the wide receiver position.  He’s got an All-Pro tight end build and shows great hands, but he’s not a wide receiver.  It will be interesting to see what happens as the spring continues.


Charley Howard continues to show his hard work is paying off.  All the Gahanna, Ohio native does is continue to make catch after catch.


Will Miss The Weekend


One player who will not be part of practice this weekend is kicker Brandon Yingling.  The Mason, Ohio native will travel to Virginia to work with one of the top kicking experts in the country.  Both Coach Kelly and Elston gave the senior kicker their blessing and while Yingling is working on his physical skills he’s also said he’s been working on the one area he feels he’s the weakest, the mental part.  If Yingling can put things together he’ll be in the running for the kicking job.


Young Guns


There are several young players that catch your eye when watching practice.  Three of the ones I’ve been catching are Tahree McQueen, Alex Delisi and Drew Frey.  I will not be surprised if all three play roles this fall as McQueen is being worked as a kick return specialist and Delisi and Frey look to hold down back up roles on the defense.


Playboy All-American


Last season saw three Bearcats earn some sort of All-American honors.  But it looks as if Mike Mickens could end up on the Playboy All-American Team this fall.  The senior and four year starter is sharper then he’s ever been and not taking anything for granted.


New Bearcats


You already read about one of the players who earned a spot on the Bearcats after Monday’s tryouts.  While he’s waiting on paper work to be finished another local will be joining the team on Friday.  We’ll have more on this player this week.


Kelly Time


This is my fourth spring season covering the Bearcats and while at first I didn’t know if I’d like the morning schedule I must say I hope it stays.  The other area I love is the no-nonsense approach Brian Kelly and his staff brings to the field with practice time.  Kelly keeps things fast paced and you don’t feel like you’ve spent two hours watching practice.  Gone are the days of practice being stopped and then running over.


No Experiment At All


While many felt the move of Craig Carey and Connor Barwin to be experiments, Brian Kelly was quick to say they are not.  He loves the energy both guys bring to the defense and said it was much needed.  On the field the pair has caused a stir as both have won a fair share of one-on-one battles against the O-line using a great burst off the end.  While raw in their technique the pair seems to be the right fit for the defensive end position.


Free Throwing


That was the best way to describe Demetrius Jones on Day Two of spring practice.  After Tuesday’s practice the Chicago native worked with quarterback coach Greg Forest on getting his throwing motion correct.  That worked paid off and Jones was seen again with Forest on Wednesday as he continues to gain confidence and regain the ability that made him a major recruit out of high school.


This was just a small part of all the action going on during Wednesday mornings practice.  We’ll continue to go through the notes and see what else we feel is a must need for Bearcat fans.  We’ll also have a few more stories coming.


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