FOOTBALL: 8/17 In-depth practice report & quotes

Today's report includes plenty of quotes from Coach Zook. Practice started today like it starts after any game weekend. They run through a slow motion correction phase of practice. The offense runs plays that didn't work for them against the same defenses called in the game. The defense does the same against the same offensive plays called.

I got a heads up that the majority of practice was going to be held on the far field so I headed straight to the baseball stadium to get a better view of the action. The team was out in shorts today. I also found out that they were switching practice up and working on individual drills at the end o practice. If I know Coach Zook it was of the prognostication of rain at the end of this practice period.

Blitz Mode

They are emphasizing yelling the down and distance to the defense to make them more aware of the offensive players intentions of just where they need to get for a first down.

Chris Leak missed Reggie Lewis on a deep seam route as he burned the defensive back covering him. Lewis came back on their next go around and pulled in a pass on the same route. It was surprising not to see Lewis get the ball much last night as he has been a main target of whatever quarterback is out there. He continues to run with the first team in a four wide receiver set.

OJ Small reeled one in, but had it been full contact, Jarvis Herring may have decapitated him. Leak really led OJ into no man's land on that one, but Small was able to hold on.

Gavin Dickey continued throwing the ball well as he hit Chad Jackson on a fade route in a crease between the safety in the corner in a deep zone.

1 on 1

Dallas Baker hauled in a Gavin Dickey pass right when he made his break on a skinny post pass. The coverage was there until Dallas made a nice move and cut on the post.

Dawayne Grace robbed a Cornelius Ingram pass. He continues to get better and better. He really has good flexibility and can break on the ball well. He came back later and knocked the ball away from Mike McIntosh.

Bubba Caldwell burned Vernell Brown on a deep post. Coach Zook didn't like what he saw and gave Vernell a few pointers. Vernell was the victim of Jemalle Cornelius a short time later as Cornelius made a nice move and then just beat Brown to the ball.


Earl Everett dropped back in coverage and knocked away the fare route to the fullback. This was open all night last night for the first team offense. Caldwell made a nice diving catch in the middle of the field of a low thrown Chris Leak football. Bubba had a few drops today that no doubt will stand out when Coach Fedora looks at the tape later tonight.

Kenneth Tookes saw some action for the first time on the first team offense when they went to a four wide formation. On the second team lining up in the slot, Tony Joiner bit inside and Tookes was all alone for the touchdown in the corner of the endzone.

Reggie Lewis sees the ball again and makes tough catch on a ball thrown behind him by Leak.

Dawayne Grace, still playing tough, broke up a Dickey pass to Chad Jackson as he out fought Jackson for the ball and knocked it away.

Kyle Jackson had his 6th interception of the fall as he continues to pile them up. Unfortunately he fumbled it on the return. Still, he has been impressive with his instincts and the smarts for the game at the free safety position.

Team Drills

Again, they were in shorts today, most likely due to the rash of injuries they have encountered. The running game in shorts is almost not worth reporting on because the linemen can't knock each other around to make holes or clog holes.

Bubba Caldwell reeled another 20 yard seam route from Chris Leak in the early part of the period.

In the nickel on the first team, Zep Augustine substituted for Jarvis Herring. They are probably trying to get the safeties ready for the one game suspension of Herring. In the dime package they actually took Carey Bailey out of the first unit.

The second team tackles today were Clint McMillan and Kenny Parker. Like I said yesterday, they have been rotating them around to see what they have past the first unit.

The lone running play that was sweet today was a reverse by the offense as Jemalle Cornelius scoots around the end untouched for the touchdown.

Joe Cohen had a deflection of a Chris Leak pass. Last night, Cohen was pretty silent and I am sure they would like to see more from him.

Baker did what he does best and went high for a pass over Deshawn Carter. He forced his position on the heavier defensive back and leaped up for the grab.

With Jonathan Colon out for reasons listed below, Anthony Guerrero was inserted into the starting lineup at left tackle. Guerrero who is a journeyman at almost every position on the second unit is a fine offensive lineman. The knock on him is his size. The 6-2, 332 pound lineman is not the prototypical size for the SEC but as we stated here before he is flexible enough and smart enough to play just about anywhere.

Individual Drills

The only thing we really noticed in the individual drills today was that Jarvis Moss continues to work with the linebackers. Lots of fans have been wondering what kind of moves could be made on the defense to move a player around for more depth. This may be the move.

There was lightning in the area so the 2 minute drill was cancelled and everyone headed in.

The List of Wounded Changes

The first major injury of the fall practice period, will see walk on tight end Darrell Carpenter sidelined for a while. Coach Zook said: "Darrell Carpenter has a crack in his fifth metatarsal, and will probably out for 4 or 5 weeks. It is something that is similar to what Brian Crum had." Richard Brown who limped out of the scrimmage last night and Zook said: "Richard Brown had an MRI this morning and we are not sure." He went on to add that all the other injuries that occurred during fall practice are pretty minor in nature. "Other than that it's just bumps and bruises. Skyler Thornton will be alright, he has a muscle behind his knee that was strained.. Dane Guthrie twisted his ankle, we need him back out here. He's an athletic, big, and strong guy, he catch the football."

Jonathan Colon started out practice but walked off in the middle to visit muscle beach and get some treatment. "Colon has a hurt toe, but he is alright. He got a little hot out there. This was the hottest day of the year and it may have been the hottest since I have been here." I was told by someone else on staff that the heat index was at 98 degrees out there today.

Justin Midgett hasn't been throwing a lot at practice lately. H threw all of 4 passes in the scrimmage last night. Coach Zook told us, "He's a little sore right now. He has a little strange release but he's very accurate so we don't want to change it. With that release he will comes up sore sometimes."

Eric Wilbur was not out there at practice today. Coach Zook said he was sick and had to leave after stretch.

Tavares Washington is still trying to get healthy. The Giant left tackle had surgery in the off-season and hopefully will be back soon. Dallas Baker was back today and running with the second team. Bubba Caldwell resumed his opening day spot at the top of the depth chart at the same wide receiver position ahead of Baker.

Dee Webb practiced again today and looks pretty close to full speed. Michael Hill also appeared healthy today and worked out at full speed with the defensive tackles.

Todd McCullough will be ready to go in a day or two. He was out of his boot and I saw him jogging from one field to the other.


We have talked about the tight ends and their loss of production in the passing game. Coach Zook thinks we have a few weapons. "Tate Casey is a guy, with Darrell being out, we need to get Tate ready to go," said Zook. Besides maybe Brian Crum, Tate Casey is probably the best pass catching threat out there with loss of Carpenter. On the position as a whole, Zook said "I really think, particularly blocking wise, we are going to be better than last year. Joe Wickline said in the meeting today that we will be better at blocking." On Markell Thompson and his lack of production as a receiver Zook added, "He can still catch the football. Ben Troupe was a guy that we said we had to get the football to. I'm not saying that we aren't going to throw the football to them, but they are not our marquis guys. We feel like we have some receivers that can make some things happen and those are the guys that will probably get the ball a little more."

On Jarvis Moss' switch to playing mostly linebacker in the scrimmage, Zook was satisfied. "For a guy that is still learning the position, I thought he did pretty well."

Rating the progress

Coach Zook thinks that the team is moving right along, "We are on course. Obviously we still have along way to go and a lot of work to do but we are making progress. Defensively we are probably going to have to cut back a lot. We had so much defense in there, they were thinking, which is normal. Everything is in we just need to kind of clear the web a little bit."

On Mike Mangold and his appeal to qualify this year, "We have to hear something this week. School starts next week and there is only a 2 week grace period."

Pass Rush

The best defensive end of the scrimmage yesterday was Jeremy Mincey. He has been a workout warrior all summer and the whole staff from the strength coaches to the head coach is very high on him. Coach Zook said, "He's a guy that plays with a wide open motor. He's going to run into something, somebody somehow."

The Freshman Linebacker Learning Curve

"They will be fine. The water in their head is a little muddy right now. But when you begin to simplify things [it will get better]. We have more in offensively, defensively and on special teams than we ever do for a game plan. We use the camp to get ready for the season, to find out what you are going to do well and what your players don't do well. Then you don't do as much for each game week. The offense was sharper last night probably because thy cut back a little bit and the defense kept going as far as installation."

Dawayne Grace

One of the bright spots of practice today was the play of freshman corner back Dawayne Grace. Grace made a few breaks on the ball that looked eerily similar to Keiwan Ratliff where he baits the quarterback to throw underneath and the swoops in for the pick. Coach Zook added, "He's getting better. He's a very very athletic , very smooth, big corner, we have to force him into some situations to see how he handles it."

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