Practice Day 7: Defense Coming Together

Cooler temperatures prevailed on day three of practice at Higher Ground for the Bearcats, and the preparation for Fresno State, just 19 days away, continued.

The news of the day came late in practice when it was announced senior tight end, Ben Guidugli, was named to the John Mackey Award watch list for the most outstanding tight end in the country. Guidugli had an interesting day of practice with tight ends coach, Mark Elder, in his ear all day. He made some nice catches, but Elder was on Guidugli for not hustling during practice.

Defensive back Dominique Battle was at practice, but not in pads. He participated in walk-throughs with the team, then was sent to the sidelines to workout his aggravated hamstring. Battle spent most of his day working on hand drills and riding the bike.

A scary moment came mid-way through practice when defensive linemen Derek Wolfe went down with an ankle injury. He walked off the field with a noticeable limp and received medical treatment on his right ankle. Luckily for the Bearcats, Wolfe was back on the field shortly after and head coach Butch Jones said he was fine and there was nothing to be concerned about.

Cincinnati worked on individual drills for the majority of practice, but there was no shortage of collisions during those drills.

The linebackers were working on one-on-three blocking drills and J.K. Schaffer looked as strong as ever blowing through the three men in his way.

Sophomore full back Colin Lozier torched freshmen defensive linemen Roney Lozano in a one-on-one rushing drill, which drew the attention of everybody on the field. It wasn't but 20 minutes later till Lozano got his revenge, but this time he ran over linebacker Obadiah Cheatham during a one-on-one kick return drill.

During individual quarterback drills we got what is expected from starter Zach Collaros, but as coach Jones has stated, it's wide open behind him. Freshmen Munchie Legaux stuck out to me. He has some zip on his ball and throws a tight spiral, but needs to speed up his release. Chazz Anderson was himself, rolling out of the pocket and scrambling for yards, but his passes were both on and off target.

As for the kicking game, wide receiver Danny Milligan took snaps at punter and didn't look too bad. Kicker Jake Rogers was booming kicks through the uprights with ease in practice, but looked a bit shaky with defensive pressure coming at him. He did put one through from 47 yards out that would have been easily good from 60 yards out. Strength is not his issue, it's his accuracy.

There were plenty of 11-on-11 "live" drills that showcased the Bearcat offense, but gave the defense their moments. In short yardage situations the defense looked solid and held the offense on multiple occasions. Collaros and D.J. Woods hooked up multiple times over the middle, and Woods looks faster than he did last season.

Senior Jamar Howard drew the praise of coach Jones with his solid hustle and nice moves on the field during the 11-on-11 drills.

During the same drills in the red zone, Collaros overthrew his receiver and the pass was intercepted by coach Kerry Combs in the back of the end zone, but he rebounded on the next pass by hitting running back John Goebel on a screen pass for a touchdown and connected with Woods again over the middle for another touchdown on the next play.

Next was the short yardage drills and that is where the defense excelled, stopping the offense on third and one three times.

The offense looked unstoppable at times, and the defense is still a work in progress but is coming together with more and more time on the practice field.

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