Day One: Team Blue Tidbits

Quick hitting news and notes from Illinois' Team Blue afternoon practice session.

A little clarity on the split roster situation (I wasn't here yet last season when this was going on)…

- The orange team is comprised of the starting unit and the fourth teamers. The blue squad consists of the twos and threes. The split-look will continue for three more days and I'm told players can bounce back and forth between the two teams depending on where they stand on the depth chart from day to day. Today's two sessions were mirror images of each other, only the players changed.

You read about the orange team's morning session… Here's a few notes from the guys in blue this afternoon.

- It's pretty clear which positions have more depth than others… Tailback is in pretty good shape compared to most of the units. Dami Ayoola and Josh Ferguson make quite a good tandem at running back for the blue team. They're currently behind Donovonn Young on the depth chart, but both should see playing time if healthy. As you guys already know, Ferguson is a weapon waiting to happen. He can do so many things in terms of running and catching the ball. The key is good health. I think Ayoola has progressed nicely and should make for a good third option/spot duty when needed.

- The receiver position has at least 16 players, so the blue team is full of interesting faces. Steve Hull, Justin Hardee, Miles Osei and Devin Church, among others, are all competing for playing time. I'll give Hull credit -- he doesn't look out of place at all after moving from safety. He's quick and catches the ball away from his body every single time. Not sure how he'll figure in to the rotation, but he's going to have a chance.

- I tried to watch Reilly O'Toole as often as possible, checking to see if his mechanics are improved after a summer to work on it, but he never really zipped any passes out. He threw a bunch of touch passes in the drills I got to see, so that's still a question mark...

- Defensively, the secondary was young this morning… And probably even younger this afternoon. Freshmen Dillan Cazley and Darius Mosely are two players who are going to get playing time this season, no doubt. Mosely stands a shot of getting in there for nickel and dime packages. Cazley, at least to me, looks bigger than the listed 5-10, 175 pounds.

- The defensive line is another position that needs to develop depth in a hurry as well. Guys like Teko Powell and Dejazz Woods need to use this week to get headed in the right direction.

A few other players on the blue team that you need to know… safety Zane Petty, outside linebacker/LEO Dawuane Smoot, defensive lineman Bryce Douglas -- these are just a few guys that have a chance to get playing time this season and need to have good fall camps. We'll keep track of that as this tune plays on.

Lastly, I thought Mike Svetina had a good early portion of practice. His body has developed since the spring and he was moving with a calm, confident look out there. There's no pressure on him considering the depth at linebacker, so for the time being he can go out, play hard and get better and not get too caught up in expectation and anticipation. Everything is coming to him if he continues down the current path. He and T.J. Neal combine to form another good blue team tandem.

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