Practice Observations 3/31: The Inside Stuff

There was little more real hitting on Monday as they weren't able to complete the full scrimmage on Saturday. During the last portion of practice they were allowed to tackle the ball carrier to the ground for the first real live action we have been allowed to see all spring. With that in mind we could glean a little bit more from the running game and pass protections / pass rush.

Offensive Running Game & Protection

It seemed to me for the offense it was kind of an all or nothing day. Either the backs were rattling off 7-12 yard runs or they were getting hit at the line of scrimmage or behind it and getting nothing out of the play.

At the running back position, it appeared that Mark Herndon had the most consistent day of any of them and had the most plays beyond 5 yards that I saw. Herndon ran with authority when he needed to a couple of times and then showed a quick flash outside on one outside zone run. Didn't see any break-away speed from Herndon, but looked very solid.

Kelvin Taylor had the two best runs of the day, a couple of 18-20 yard runs. On one run, he did what he does best. He made someone miss in the backfield with a little stutter step, then he got to the line of scrimmage and quickly bounced outside to go for about 20 yards. He had another outside zone play where he chewed up 18 yards pretty quickly. I saw three times where Taylor solidly picked up a blitzer and he looks a lot more comfortable doing that now than he did in the early going last year.

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Adam Lane had a nine yard run and a 12 yard run that were very similar. He is a bowling ball and a very hard runner who ducks his head and seems to be able to move the pile a bit. He is a little bit of a change up from the previously mentioned.

Hunter Joyer also got in on the act and ran the ball from the ‘Pistol' formation. Joyer also had a couple of pile moving runs on the day. The Pistol seems like a formation they will run a lot from this year, and pass of course.

As far as protection and run blocking, I thought it was pretty adequate. The line seemed to control the inside rush more than the outside for most of the real action, but that wasn't always the case. I like what I am seeing out of three tackles in D.J. Humphries, Chaz Green, and Trenton Brown. But, I think this was Green's worst day and Brown got several reps with the first team late in the scrimmage portion.

Max Garcia had one bad snap today, which has been a little bit of a problem. Cutting it to one is a good thing, and his biggest thing is too low of a snap, which I guess is better than the alternative. Either way, I think he is going to be a very good center.

Tyler Moore and Trip Thurman can move guys as the starting guards but aren't the best in pass protection and when blocking for the draw. Roderick Johnson is going to push these guys as the staff will look to get the best five out there.

Tevin Westbrook continues to get better in this man's opinion. In blocking drills he owned everyone he lined up against in 1on1's. DeAndre Goolsby continues to play physical and I think Clay Burton is usually the most physical of the bunch.

Offensive Inside or run play of the day: I will go with Taylor's 20-yard run. It was text book Kelvin Taylor and he did some things on that run that can't be duplicated by anyone else on the roster.

Offensive inside or RB player of the day :I will go with Herndon and the consistency. It was probably the most I have seen out of him since last spring.

Defensive Run Stop & Pass Rush

We ripped on Alex McCalister here after the first two practices for both not being big enough and having really bad body language on the field. He just looked like he didn't want to be there.

That has changed and now we are starting to see glimpses of him fighting hard on the practice field and getting after it every chance he can. In 1on1's he was having his way with freshman tight end Goolsby, and Goolsby has been a pretty physical player so far this spring. I liked what I saw there. He is also working hard and controlling his gap at the line of scrimmage and keeping containment, something that is very hard for him but getting easier with the weight he actually is putting on. He will continue to get better with more weight.

One guy that is making an even bigger difference is Bryan Cox. He made two great plays in the backfield that I saw on Monday and he has actually worked himself into a position to play a lot and possibly start allowing them to move Jonathan Bullard inside to get an even quicker defensive line unit on the field.

Cox was always active a year ago, but just didn't show up on the stat sheet for one reason or another. In practice he is constantly showing up on the stat sheet now.

Dante Fowler sat out most of the real reps as they try to get McCalister work, but he continues to be the best player on defense in my opinion.

Darious Cummings alongside Bullard inside, look like a pretty good complimentary pair of defensive tackles. Cummings made a couple of big plays on the day and one will be our play of the day mentioned later. He is a wide body with good quickness for his size.

Darious Cummings

The only other younger defensive linemen that seemed to do much was Joey Ivie. The sophomore is getting most of his action inside right now, but does get some outside. He is a bull and hard to handle because he is also quick.

At linebacker, Daniel McMillian continues to make strides. It is all a matter of knowing what he is doing because athletically he is as good as anyone out there at the position. If he's in the right place when the ball is snapped he can make any play. He did that on Monday and had a few tackles right at the line of scrimmage.

I would say the most active linebacker was sophomore Jarrad Davis, but he did tweak his shoulder or back on one tackle. I believe he played through it, but he was dinged a bit.

Defensive front play of the day: Cummings made a quick swim move and got by center max Garcia. He was in the backfield so fast on a draw play that Mack Brown hardly got the handoff and was seated on his pants 4-yards deep by Cummings on the solo tackle.

Defensive front player of the day: Cummings gets the nod for being a good run stuffer and then the two big plays in the backfield on the day.


Kyle Christy continues to bomb the ball. I counted 6 punts with real pressure and in the air he kicked for 50, 50, 40, 38, 35 (lots of pressure), and finally 53 yards in the air on a real bomb that left Demarcus Robinson nowhere to go when he caught it.

For the second practice in a row, the only other punter that got a chance was walk-on red-shirt freshman Danny Krysalka. Last Wednesday he alternated with Johnny Townsend, on Monday he alternated with Christy. He constantly kicks it between 35-40 yards and did so three times on Monday.

The punt returners on the day were Andre Debose and Chris Thompson who were both in non-contact jerseys and also Demarcus Robinson who is a natural at it. I think for the most part you have those guys, plus Vernon Hargreaves and Alvin Bailey in the mix.

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