The defense had the upper hand for most of the day on Monday, at least when they met up as full units. A lot of that had to do with the defensive line.
This was the most I have seen Dante Fowler do his thing and he was very active. He routinely was in the backfield against anyone he lined up against and usually it was Chaz Green or D.J. Humphries, the two starting tackles on offense. That isn't to say he won every rep he went against those guys, but he won more than he lost.
The defensive line did better as a group than in the 1on1 segments of practice. The staff really does a lot of 1on1 work, two or three sessions per practice and they really get after it.
One guy that caught my eye up front on Monday was true freshman Taven Bryan. He is massive. Built like Bullard, but maybe an inch or two taller. He has some power and explodes at the snap and was hard to handle in the 1on1 portions. He of course is mentally behind in the team stuff as he learns what to do.
Caleb Brantley had a couple of nice wins in the 1on1 portion over center Cameron Dillard Brantley continues to show that he can move and make plays at his size.
The linebackers are playing with serious gusto right now. Antonio Morrison screams out to the defense regularly to be ready and words of encouragement. Michael Taylor is first to celebrate with a teammate that does something well. Taylor was in on one big play in the Team portion when he sacked Jeff Driskel on a really quick blitz.
Neiron Ball is still out with injury.
They had a portion of practice near the end that the defense won four out of five series. The line play was great there. Bullard made a tackle in the backfield. Runs routinely got 0-2 yards. A few bad snaps led to easy defensive plays, but for the most part the line was everywhere.
Defensive Player of the Day: I will go with Fowler. He just owned his man way more than the other way around. When you are that close to the line of scrimmage and can do that, you are going to be a huge factor in any game.
Offensive Line 2-Deep:
Like I mentioned above, the offensive line wins a ton of the battles when they are going 1on1 with the defensive side of the ball. I saw every starter on the O-Line win multiple battles, Trenton Brown again is more than anyone can handle if he gets his hands on them. Trip Thurman and Brown may have had the most dominating performances in the 101 portions. They are huge guys with some power.
They have to get better as a unit. They have their moments, like on one outside run where Green and Thurman sealed the edge on a Mack Brown run that went 16 yards for a touchdown. Then they have moments when they stumble around and aren't effective. There is still a lot of work to be done.
I heard offensive line coach Mike Summers' voice for the first time. I couldn't tell who he was yelling at but from 150 yards away he was screaming at one of his linemen to, "Get down!! You understand?! Get down!!"
The biggest issue up front was probably the snaps. Garcia had at least three that were almost rollers to Driskel and Dillard nearly snapped one over the head of quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg.
Anyone saying Humphries is still too small isn't seeing the same guy I am.
I saw nice runs from Kelvin Taylor, Mark Herndon, and Mack Brown. None of them really stood out over the others, none of them were really bad either. Taylor did fall down on a screen play and almost had the ball intercepted. Kurt Roper wasn't too happy about that one.
Brown was injured on a play where he made McCalister miss in the backfield, then got up field and was hit hard. He limped off. Herndon one play showed the patience of a good back. The hole he was supposed to run through closed and so he jetted outside and got 12+ yards over the left side of the line.
It appeared that DeAndre Goolsby got the most snaps at tight end on Monday. I was quite impressed with Goolsby at his blocking and protecting prowess. I watched him throw three different defenders on the ground during the drills, the first being Bullard. He isn't quite as big as Tevin Westbrook, but he packs quite a punch.
Offensive (Front) Player of the Day: I am going to go with Goolsby here. Chaz green may be a close second, but I have seen Goolsby do some things catching the ball, it was great to see him make some plays at the line of scrimmage against guys that are bigger and more experienced than he is.