Practice Report: Last Day At Higher Ground

In their final practice at Camp Higher Ground, the Bearcats worked on game scenarios as their opener against Fresno State comes in just 10 days.

There were two scares for Cincinnati on the final day at Higher Ground, one of which was scripted.

During a seven-on-seven drill wide receiver, D.J. Woods, made a great catch in the end zone, but couldn't get back to his feet. It looked bad at first as the trainers came over and pulled Woods off the field to look at his right ankle. With Woods wincing in pain as the trainers did their job, he slowly climbed to his feet and walked it off. Not before too long, Woods was back on the field with the first string offense.

The second scare came when quarterback Zach Collaros went down while the offense was working on a "live" game scenario. Collaros was holding his knee and head coach, Butch Jones, was yelling for the trainers. They came out and got Collaros on his feet and handed him to two offensive linemen to walk him off the field. As he reached the sideline, Collaros pushed them away and ran off the field. Turns out that it was a scripted injury, something I've never seen, to give the trainers and the second string quarterback some training if an injury happens to occur. Definitely the oddest thing I witnessed while at Higher Ground.

Practice started with some field goal work with Jake Rogers getting most of the work. He looked good, but later told me his leg was a little sore from all the kicking he has done recently. Rogers didn't kick much after the first twenty minutes of practice.

Three different guys saw time punting: Pat O'Donnell, Evan Aleshire and Danny Milligan. O'Donnell looked the best, showing good hang time and placing the ball inside the twenty on numerous occasions. O'Donnell will be handling the punting duties to start the season.

D.J. Woods appears as though he will be the primary punt returner, and it looks as though Vidal Hazelton will be returning kick offs.

There was a lot of work on schemes and blocking technique for both the offense and defense throughout the day.

Assistant coach, Kerry Combs, was on his guys again, especially defensive back Bruce Horner, for being behind his man and not going for interceptions during a drill where the first string defense was facing the second string offense. In the same drill, linebacker J.K. Schaffer looked solid and deflected a pass that should have been intercepted, Combs was on him for that as well.

During the 11-on-11 drill, Chazz Anderson was under center with the second string offense as the search for a backup to Zach Collaros continues. Not sure if this is an indication that Chazz is the second stringer for good, or just for today.

Later in practice during a seven-on-seven drill, Collaros tried to thread the needle over the middle, but Schaffer was there and intercepted the ball bringing the defense to their feet and drawing praise from his teammates.

To end practice the Bearcats worked on game scenarios. They practiced everything from extra points to kick offs after a safety, as well as some down and distance scenarios.

The player-of-the-day in my eyes was Marcus Barnett. He finished his blocks better than anybody all day and never quit until the whistle blew. Also, he made a great catch in the end zone on a pass from Chazz Anderson where he jumped up and over his defender to haul in the catch.

In injury news, offensive linemen Sam Griffin was walking around practice in a walking boot on his right foot.


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