Usually, the media viewing session is uneventful— position specific drills, special teams work, etc. Today, though, we got to see the whole machine work in unison as they lined the offense up and went head-to-head with the defense.
Just like Tuesday, the offense was working a lot on their hurry-up game. They only completed two passes that were more than 15-yards, with a 16-yard completion from Jacob Eason to Isaac Nauta on the outside, and a 45-yard bomb from Jake Fromm to Jayson Stanley, who surprisingly didn’t drop the pass. They were mostly throwing screens, slants and quick eight-yard digs.
My eyes were mostly on the offensive line for the day. Their starting unit, from left to right, was: Isaiah Wynn, Dyshon Simms, Lamont Galliard, Solomon Kindley and Aulden Bynum.
Before meeting up with the skill positions, they were running one-on-one pass rushing drills on the defensive line, where the first unit looked very impressive. They weren’t tripped up by any of the pass-rushing moves the defense had to offer. They obviously had the better day over the d-line.
It was exciting to see that the o-line may have actually improved since last season, but those ideas were quickly expelled as soon as the team started running live plays against the defense. Wynn did a great job locking up the blindside, and it seems obvious that he's going to be the stud among the line. But other than that the line couldn’t consistently buy Eason or Fromm enough time to make clean throws. Although they weren’t with the starting group, pray that Ben Cleveland and Sean Fogarty don’t have to play next to each other during the season, because whoever is in the backfield at that time is going to get lit up.
When they were under distress, which was often, Fromm’s lack of size showed. He had several throws batted down at the line, while Eason never had an issue getting it over. For an early-enrollee, Fromm looks like he’s beyond his years in his ability to read a defense. Still, Eason obviously has a serious physical advantage over Fromm, and that’s clear when you see both of them throw the ball as Eason can zip it in there much quicker than Fromm can.
Speaking of Eason, his connection with Isaac Nauta was strong when the 2016 season concluded. Now, it looks even better. With the way these two are progressing with each other, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nauta land an All-SEC spot in 2017.
Chubb looked like he had slimmed down a bit, and that reflected in his play. He looked like a had a little more hop in him than last season. They didn’t the ball a whole lot today, but he and Sony Michel were both heavily involved in the passing game as targets on screen plays.
Through the team drills, the defense seemed to be one step ahead at all times, but that’s how it often in the first few days of practice. Still, they defended the screen well and locked up slants in the middle. They did let up those two big plays I mentioned earlier but otherwise looked to have elite potential. Freshman Richard LeCounte and Deangelo Gibbs were both lined up at corner with the first team, and both looked like they could have huge impacts next season. LeCounte had an impressive interception, although it did come against third-string Sam Vaughn. Gibbs was lockdown for most of the day, only slipping up once with a hold on one play.
Finally, Trent Thompson was present at practice today, standing off to the side watching.