Once they finished the 2-minute walk through, they moved to the opposite field to stretch. Once done with stretching, Matt Leach and the other kickers took their target practice on Dave Houts again from the video tower. From there the team moved to full speed but not full contact blitz drill.
Dee Webb continues to shut down everyone he faces and plays tight coverage. His first play in the blitz period and he rode the receiver so hard he didn't catch it. The next pass was to Dallas Baker and the pass was just too good from Chris Leak, with Webb all over him Dallas jumps high to catch it.
Leak followed on the next play and hit Dallas for a beautiful corner pass that may have gone the distance.
Vernell Brown is starting to play tough and the coaches are taking notice. Right now he is alternating with the first team defense with Reynaldo Hill. His problem is definitely when he faces a really tall receiver like Dallas, but he plays tight coverage and physical.
Dane Guthrie saw a little time at tight end with the first unit today. It looks like they aren't sold on Markell Thompson right now as David Kenner and Darrell Carpenter have been getting more snaps with the first unit too. This is another sign that we may play more 4 wide receiver sets or 2 backs and 3 receiver sets.
Jamelle Cornelius continues to play steady ball. He has caught every ball thrown his way that I can remember. I am looking forward to when they start tackling and he is allowed to finish plays. I think he breaks more than a few long ones this year.
In the second nickel defense, all 3 freshmen defensive backs were on the field. In the first nickel the starters are Herring, Bailey, and Holmes.
A lot of short passes and underneath passes in the pass-skel drills today. The coverage out here is getting better.
Dallas and Leak hook up again as Dee had great coverage, the ball just looped over Dee's hands and into the waiting arms of the 6-3 receiver.
Nick Brooks, who has been moved to safety, swarmed in and swiped an errant Justin Midgett pass. Justin wasn't having the best of days today and it made some of us wonder if his thoughts were back home with all the damage done from Hurricane Charley to the Port Charlotte area.
Dane Guthrie turned the corner after catching a flat pass. He left the linebacker in his wake as he turned and headed up field. The 260 pound tight end has really impressed the coaches so far this year.
Bubba Caldwell jumped back to the first team during the start of team drills after running with the second group earlier in the day. Something tells me they are trying to light a fire under his butt by his demotion earlier in the day.
Dallas almost mad a circus catch on a purposely under thrown fade. He didn't get turned around in time to see the ball coming, but his long arms were enough to get a hand under it and force the ball to bounce in the air. On the second bump the defender was there swatting it. The ball finally landed right on the back of his neck as he hit the ground.
The wide runs and reverses are getting eaten alive by the fast defensive front. Over I am starting to wonder of Joe Cohen is stealing the signals and looking for the wide running plays as he seems to always be there at the right time.
The running game hasn't looked too pretty, but they still are not in full hitting mode. I expect a little better looking results when the offensive linemen can knock heads.
Kyle Jackson gets his 4th interception of the year. Reggie Lewis was running an angle route about 15-20 yards deep. Gavin Dickey bootlegs in the same direction and lofts the ball. It is a little under thrown and the wet grass causes Lewis to slip. He goes down on his back but is in position to catch the ball still coming at him. Out of nowhere Jackson dives over the top of Lewis and snags the ball in mid-flight. I call that the play of the day.
We have seen about one bubble screen per practice since third day. Today Kenneth Tookes had a chance for a big gainer and completely dropped the ball.
As we have been reporting the flare pass to the backs out of the backfield has become more of a weapon. On one occasion, Leak threw it to DeShawn Wynn before Wynn turned to the ball. As he turned he saw the ball coming and only had time for a one handed grab. The pass was perfect and Wynn was able to head up field in perfect stride. I like the progression of this little part of the offense.
2 Minute Drill
The first series was pretty quick. After a short and uneventful 1st play from the offense, they lined up again to make something happen. On a pass to the flat a flying Earl Everett came out of nowhere to snag the ball in front of a falling Dallas Baker. It was Earl's first big play of the fall and showed the talent the starting will linebacker possesses.
The second 2 minute drill started with a 10-9 score. Gavin Dickey led the second team offense out there to move down the field.
After one short completion in the first 3 plays, Gavin scrambled on 4th and about 5 to get the first down. Tremaine McCullom could have lit Tookes up on one particular pass across the middle. They are still not full contact.. Gavin had to scramble again for the second first down. With a 1st and 10 and 40 yards away from pay dirt, Caldwell catches an out pass for 11 yards. The kicking teams come on. Matt Leach missed just left on a 46 yard attempt as the defense wins both 2-Minute situations today.
Vernell was the first returner again and he couldn't get to Eric Wilbur's first punt as he didn't hit it very hard. Gavin Dickey followed that by a sweet catch of a shallow punt from Nick Fleming. Dickey put some jets on and caught the ball with his fingertips stretched out at full speed.
Wilbur came back after his first kick and boomed a few. Fleming hit a few nice ones himself, but I think Wilbur won the battle today.
The two best punt blockers on the team are Jemalle Cornelius, Jermaine McCullom, and Dee Webb, probably in that order. They like to line up Dee just to the inside of Jemalle and rush them off the left end making the outside lineman have to choose between the two. I thought we would get more block last year, but I expect it this year.
Anthony Guererro is the guy on the second team offensive line that bounces around. I am guessing it is because he is not physically the type of player Coach Wickline wants out there, but he fundamentally sound and a smart player. He can fill in everywhere on the line except center. Near the end of practice he was lining up at right tackle. I have already seen him fill in at left tackle and both guard spots early this fall.
There were a lot fewer snaps today as they did not run the back to back plays. I think this may have more to do with getting players involved on the first team and second team and in different combinations. But it also has to do with the fact that there will be another practice tonight at 6:30. The 3rd team guys got very few reps today.
Bubba Caldwell started off the practice on the second team. Later he made an appearance on the first team. As I mentioned I think they are trying to light a fire under his butt. I know the plan has been to utilize his skills this year, maybe more so than anyone. Still, I haven't seen it out of him yet. I keep thinking it may have to do with not being in pads yet and the receivers don't really complete their routes, but today's roster move looks like it may be more than that.
Stephen Harris reappears after being absent from practice yesterday. He evidently had some personal issues to take care of yesterday and could not attend practice.
The McCullom twins are showing up well, and I will have more on that in a post in the BullGator Den later today.