Spring Practice Notes and Quotes- Day 5

Jake Rogers and Brandon Yingling practiced field goals with the field goal unit as Cincinnati's collection of quarterbacks (Ben Mauk included) threw downfield passes to the Bearcat's receiving corps. Such was the scene as the University of Cincinnati football team began their fifth day of spring practices.

Although the practice was not the fastest paced or cleanest practice seen this spring, head coach Brian Kelly had no shortage of good things to say about the day’s work.


“I think we’re making progress on the offensive line,” said Kelly.  “We’re way ahead of where we were at this point last year.”


The offensive line had been a point of concern for some Bearcat faithful, but Kelly is confident in coach Jeff Quinn and the squad he’s been able to put together thus far this spring.  The quarterbacks have looked well protected from charging defensive linemen during full offense vs. defense play.


However, the most impressive play overall Tuesday came from the wide receivers.  Marcus Barnett, Charley Howard, and Armon Binns all excelled in the 1-on-1 wide receiver vs. defensive backs drills.  Barnett and was able to use his sheer speed while Howard and Binns both displayed great hands on some impressive catches to beat the defensive backs, including among others, likely starters Mike Mickens and Brad Jones.  Barnett, Binns, and Marshwan Gilyard all also made a handful of good looking grabs during the 7-on-7 play.  Defensive back Justin Moore was able to come away with the first - and only - interception of the day for the Bearcat defense, fighting with Binns for possession from the air to the ground, eventually coming away with the ball, about 30 yards down the right sideline.


The most impressive catch of the 7-on-7 play happened to come from a player no longer listed on the UC roster as a wide receiver.  Now-tight end Adrien Robinson made a beautiful over-the-soldier grab as he ran down the middle of the field through the Cincinnati secondary, delivered by quarterback Demetrius Jones.


“I like Adrien Robinson,” said coach Kelly after practice.  “We made a move and moved him to tight end after careful evaluation.  We were able to make that decision, and I think he’s going to help us a lot.”


Kelly realizes that getting the freshman from Indianapolis involved could prove to be quite beneficial to his team.  At tight end rather than wide receiver, Robinson should be able to have that chance.


“What we’re looking at is how we can get him more reps in our entire package,” said the coach.  “It’s pretty clear that if we just left him at wide receiver he’d be in and out of the game.  It just makes sense for us to get him more work at that position.  I think he understands more than anything else that it’s an opportunity to get more playing time.”


Jones and Robinson executed the same play again during the full offense vs. defense portion of practice, and it was the highlight of Jones’ day as well.  After struggling throughout the first week of spring ball with his mechanics and form, coach Kelly took time today to work with Jones 1-on-1, and the private help started to look as if it was paying off more consistently by the end of practice.


“We spent a lot of time with Demetrius.  We’re really working hard on his fundamentals and mechanics,” said Kelly of his Notre Dame transfer from Chicago.  “What’s pretty apparent to me is that he did not have a lot of those mechanics in place when he got here.  We’ve really worked hard on it; he’s made some really good progress.”


Coming off of a soldier surgery, a period of Jones readjusting had been expected by Kelly.


“He can’t even compete for the starting position until he gets mechanically sound,” said Kelly of Jones.  “We made some good progress today.  My timetable has been, from day one, it’s going to take us a couple of weeks just to get him mechanically sound, and then the last couple of weeks I think I can get him to the point where he can start running our offense.”


Until that point becomes a possible reality, Kelly was quick in answering that senior Dustin Grutza is the front runner for the starting quarterback job, as many anticipated.


Tuesday morning also marked the return to spring practice of senior defensive tackle Terrill Byrd.  Byrd had been suspended for the first week of spring ball, as well as the first game of the upcoming season, following a March 5th incident in which the All-American was issued a ticket for suspected marijuana use.  Byrd was welcomed back to the team, but was not met with his usual starting spot, instead taking reps with the second group.


“We’ve moved past that,” said Kelly of Byrd’s troubles.  “He served his suspension, he’s going to sit the first game against Eastern Kentucky, and he’s going to have to earn his way back to that starting position by doing it right all the time.”


Byrd and the rest of the Bearcats will be back in action Wednesday morning for the next installment of Cincinnati spring ball.


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