Tuesday Practice Report

The next to last week of practice began this afternoon under cloudy skies and cool temperatures. The Herd took the field and didn't seem to skip a beat. The offense continued to build on the success it saw towards the end of last Saturdays opening spring scrimmage.

The team was not in full force, but appeared to be as healthy as it has been all spring. Injured running backs Travon Van and Tron Martinez are moving about very well on their injuries. Remi Watson saw the bulk of the first team snaps at running back, even though he was wearing a blue jersey.

The star of the day though was Rakeem Cato and the wideouts. To say that Cato was on point today would be an understatement. Cato continued to flash his increased arm strength as he threw pin point passes all over the field. There were deep balls to Aaron Dobson, sharp out passes to Antavious Wilson, and pin point crossing patterns to a plethora of receivers, including Tommy Shuler, Demetrius Evans and Andre Booker.

The plays of the day are too many to list. However, there are three that stand out. Cato completed a 65 yard TD pass on the money to an ever improving Jazz King. King, a redshirt sophomore to be, has had an excellent offseason. His legs are noticeably bigger and he is stronger and faster. The second play was a deep TD pass to Aaron Dobson. Get used to that.

The third play was what separates Cato from so many quarterbacks. It is what he brings to the table. No quarterback since Stan Hill has had this ability. He rolled out to his right. No one was open so he scrambled to the outside. While running he pointed violently for tight end Eric Frohnapfel to go deep. Linebacker Devin Arrington took the bait, hook, line and sinker. Arrington switched directions and went deep, unfortunately for him, Frohnapfel did not. Frohnapfel continued his pattern and caught the ball tapping both feet in bounds for a 20 yard gain. Cato did all of this while on the run.

He followed this up with another dart to Antavious Wilson. Cato was solid throughout practice, arguably the best I have seen him look since he arrived on campus last June. However, for a 45 minute spurt toward the end, he was as good as anyone I have seen on that field, maybe ever.

As I mentioned earlier, Remi Watson took the first team reps at tailback. He looked very good running and catching, showing the ability to catch the ball, and immediately head up field.

The starting offensive line changed yet again a little. From Left to right, the line was Gage Niemeyer, Josh Lovell, Channing Smith, Chris Jasperse (at left guard in place of a variety of recent contenders including Sebastian Johansson and Clinton Van Horn), and Jordan Jeffries. Jeffries continues to get the reps in place of the injured Garrett Scott. Scott should regain his spot once fall practice commences in August.

The defense had a slight change as well. Starting at defensive end is Ra'Shawde Myers. Myers played today in front of Alex Bazzie. Ken Smith was with the first team unit at defensive tackle in place of the injured James Rouse. Brandon Sparrow was the other defensive tackle and Jeremiah Taylor continued to run with the first unit at the opposite defensive end spot. Linebackers were Billy Mitchell, Devin Arrington and Jermaine Holmes. The safeties were D.J. Hunter and Zach Dunston. A new defensive back today was sophomore to be Keith Baxter. Baxter was lined up opposite returning starter Darryl Roberts.

One thing I picked up on in one on one drills was the pressure that the defensive backs are putting on the wide receivers. They are playing very physical.

One last star of the day was wide receiver Demetrius Evans. Evans caught every ball thrown his direction. He beat multiple defensive backs off the ball. Evans is a very physical wide receiver with excellent hands and above average speed.

Five wide receivers are really separating themselves right now. Dobson, Wilson, Evans, Booker and Shuler being those five. Jazz King and Craig Wilkins are making a strong push though.

Some final notes:

Blake Brooks is very strong, he will get playing time at defensive tackle.

The second until linebackers were Cortez Carter, T.J. Ross, and Armonze Daniel. I saw no signs of Daniel being moved to DE as of yet.

Practice continues Thursday at 330pm, and then again Saturday morning at 930am. Saturday will be the teams second scrimmage of the spring. For those who have attended spring practices in the past, typically the scrimmage the week before the Spring Game is one of the most intense and give the coaching staff the most to go on for future depth chart settings.

Talk about practice here: http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=108&f=2801&t=8915309

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