Weekend Spring Practice Notes

Due to the inclement weather, it was tough to get a read on how the skill players had progressed. It did, however, focus the attention on the offensive line and the defense. There were about 20 minutes of positional drills done outside, before the lightning started. Rather than focus on the units as a whole, it will be easier to highlight observations of individual players.

*- The first thing of note was the practice field. The new field turf was a great surface that will stand up to inclement weather. I stepped on it briefly, and it had a very natural feel to it, far superior to the old "Astroturf". Duke gets kudos for this improvement. It should be installed on the playing field immediately, since we seem to have chronic problems keeping a good grass surface in Wallace Wade.

*- There were a number of players working out without pads, mostly guys that are recovering from off-season surgery and can run, but have not yet been cleared for contact. All looked to be progressing nicely from their maladies, and we should be at or near full-strength come preseason practice in August.

*- Two players not in pads that were difficult to miss were heralded recruit Vince Oghobaase and senior offensive tackle Demetrius Warrick. The first thing that stood out about both of them was their sheer size. Both are in the 6'6" range. Warrink had to be tipping the scales at about 315 and was in great shape. He seemed to be moving OK. It will be tough to tell how he plays tackle though, until he puts the pads on in the fall. Oghobaase has an unbelievable build for a guy who, age-wise, should still be in high school. He looks like a football player, and according to the staff members that we talked to, plays like one too.

*- Another played that impressed out of pads was Junior defensive tackle Casey Camero. I had never seen him anywhere but from the stands, and I must say, his size out of pads surprised me. He was drawing praise from some of the bystanders with his performance while positional agility drills.

*- Usually the kickers don't receive much attention, but there were some things of note. New punter Chris Sprague was a little inconsistent, but when he got ahold of the ball, watch out. Alex Feinberg was also punting and I must say, he's not a bad punter at all. Feinberg also seems to be kicking field goals with much more authority than he did in warm-ups during the 2004 season. There was also one walk-on kicker (I did not catch his number), who was on fire, hitting just about every field goal he attempted with good range as well.

*- The lightning allowed us to view some contact drills close-up in the Yoh Center agility room. All of the players were going at it, and the intensity level was great to see. Defensive end Eli Nichols is reported to be one of the strongest members on the team and it showed, as he proved tough for the offensive linemen to handle. Some of the smaller guys got in the action as well. Converted wide receiver Kendral Felder seems to be taking to his new safety position nicely, at least from a hitting standpoint. He dished out one of the best licks of the day during one-on-one drills. All three middle linebackers on the depth chart (Codey Lowe, Zach Smith, and Alfred Williams) all stood up blockers at points during the drills.

*- Of course the defense will be the most notable during contact drills, but there were some good signs from the offensive line as well. Both Fred Roland and Jon Terry put out road grating-type blocks during drills. Rob Schirrman also held his own against some of the upperclassmen defenders. Bob Benion, Matt Rumsey, and Tyler Krieg all seem capable of handling the interior. In summary, I felt more confident about the offensive line after practice than before.

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