"Today was a good day," said head coach Larry Coker. "Coaches really stress effort and finish and I think we got a lot of that. We were moving around a lot faster and guys were moving around pretty good. The defense was running around nicely today and making plays."
The players worked very hard today despite it being only the second practice and still not in pads.
"I think their legs are a little tired and we worked them pretty hard today," Coker said. "We made some big plays today's and it was very encouraging. The main thing is trying to keep the guys up on their feet--not to grab and do foolish things. They are going to get tired and they are going to have cramps obviously with the South Florida weather."
Heat Index: 102°F
Wind: 12 mph
Cloud Cover: Partly Cloudy
Today was another solid day for the quarterbacks especially Brock Berlin and Kyle Wright. Both players found a groove in throwing the deep ball during one-on-one drills. Berlin looks more comfortable in the pocket and is showing very good accuracy throughout all drills. Offensive coordinator Dan Werner is confident Berlin will get the job done, but also stated Wright is ready to take over the team if he was needed.
During team drills there were not a lot of openings in the defense, but the quarterbacks maintained their poise and avoided throwing bad passes.
Kirby Freeman also did a solid job during seven-on-sevens with the younger players. It has definitely shown that he went through a spring practice.
Two of the best throws came from Kirby Freeman and a deep pass to Sinorice Moss in the endzone and Brock Berlin hooking up with Akieem Jolla. All quarterbacks enjoyed throwing to Roscoe Parrish today.
Talib Humphrey is currently the starting fullback and is enjoying his return to the field after missing last season with a strained Achilles. He brings speed and athleticism to the fullback position and could earn some carries this year at a position where carries are hard to come by.
"Its wonderful being with the first team and back with the guys on the team," Humphrey said. "Everybody is showing me love and like that I am back. This year we are closer than we ever were before. When we get in the huddle with Brock, Joel, and those guys—it is a feeling that I cant explain."
He admits it was a tough time for him last season watching his teammates from the sidelines.
"It was real tough last year," Humphrey said. "It was tough on me mentally and sometimes you go into depressions seeing those guys having fun on the field. Then when they lost those games I felt like it was my fault because if I was in there then maybe I could have changed the game because I consider myself a playmaker."
Frank Gore ran with more authority today than he did yesterday showing good speed up the middle. It is still hard to say whether or not he will be ready to play in the opener because the team has yet to be in pads.
Teammates have been impressed with the three freshmen running backs—Andrew Johnson, Charlie Jones, and Derron Thomas. All three have a different unique running style and can bring something different to the table. Look for one or two to play this season.
Quadtrine Hill is one of the hardest working players on the team and it is no surprise he is one of the guys setting a good example during drills where he is always running hard.
"It is good being back on the field," Hill said. "It is a little awkward being on the field doing run plays without any pads on. You have to watch out for everybody to make sure nobody gets hurt. We want everyone to be healthy for when we start two-a-days. Everybody wants to get their speed going and adjust to the speed of the game."
Roscoe Parrish caught nearly every pass thrown to him today and made quick cuts to elude potential tacklers. His knee is a bit sore from last year's surgery, but is showing no ill effects on the field. Cornerbacks are having a hard time keeping up with his quickness on both long and short routes.
"Roscoe had a good day and did a good job of running after the catch," said Coker.
All of the receivers had a strong day today making catches. Darnell Jenkins did not have the spectacular day he had yesterday, but still was solid. During one-on-one drills Jenkins often goes up against top cornerback Antrel Rolle.
One freshman that rebounded from a tough day yesterday was Lance Leggett. Today he made a number of catches including tough over the head catches near the sideline and down the field. He is farther along in his progress than the freshmen cornerbacks he is going up against. At 6-foot-4 and about 180 pounds he has room to grow, but has shown the ability to outmuscle other corners off of the line.
Both freshmen receivers, Leggett and Khalil Jones, have not been determined as redshirting this season, but because of their size they could be able to play this year if needed.
Kevin Everett is a big target and the quarterbacks are looking for him down the middle of the field. He has made the adjustment to being the starting tight end and is playing with more confidence this fall.
"The summer went great and was able to get open during seven-on-sevens and make big catches," Everett said. "It has been real good just being out here in the fall moving around and doing what I have been doing, I am real confident now and my speed and routes are better than they were in the spring."
Brandon Sebald has made some nice catches although it looks like he will be used primarily on short yardage downs as a blocking tight end. Greg Olsen has been very impressive in his route running ability and is consistently working hard—both are very encouraging to see from a young player.
The first unit is doing a good job of opening holes and giving the quarterback time to make a throw. The average weight amongst the starters is 296 pounds and it shows. The biggest difference between this year's line and last year will be the improved technique. Rashad Butler on the outside is doing a good job of hand placement and is improving his ability to consistently stay low in his position.
The second and third units have had their times where they have struggled to maintain their blocks. Although the starters appear to be set, there is a battle to be the sixth lineman who will be needed to contribute. Tyler McMeans has grasped the offense and has lost weight since arriving on campus. Andrew Bain has been working hard in the weight room to try and earn more reps. Derrick Morse continues to be an aggressive lineman especially during run plays when he is expected to pull.
Freshman Tyrone Byrd has been playing tackle and look for Chris Rutledge, who has a similar body frame as Butler, to settle into a tackle position as well. Jonathan St. Pierre has been used as a center, but could be a guard.
Javon Nanton has beefed up and is ready to be a full-time contributor this season. He was the Big East sacks leader a season ago and is looking to win the ACC title this year.
"It feels good being out here," Nanton said. "I wanted to add weight because I wanted to be an every down player and I had to show I could stop the run. It has been fun being out here with the guys and we are still able to get things done even though we are not in pads yet."
Freshman Rhyan Anderson from Wisconsin showed some fire today getting into it with another offensive lineman after the play. His teammates took notice and liked the intensity from the first-year player.
LDT Orien Harris and RDT Santonio Thomas are the starters this season and both hope to stay away from injuries. The second unit is LDT Teraz McCray and RDT Kareem Brown. If they need to go to a fifth tackle Baraka Atkins will move inside like he did last year.
Here are the top four defensive ends at each side:
LE: Atkins, Bryan Pata, Alton Wright, Eric Moncur
RE: Nanton, Thomas Carroll, Vegas Franklin, Dwayne Hendricks
Weakside linebacker Tavares Gooden is continuing to impress his teammates and the coaching staff.
"I liked what I saw from the linebackers and especially Tavares Gooden," Coker said.
Gooden has been very impressed with the team in the first two days of practice.
"Nobody is getting upset and nobody is getting down out here," Gooden said. "We have a young defense and everyone is playing well together and that is the most impressive thing. As early as it is our defense is really coming together. We just need to keep getting repetitions."
Last year Gooden backed up three-year starter and first-round draft pick D.J. Williams.
"I learned a lot of things by listening to D.J.," Gooden said. "That is one reason why I came here because I was able to learn from an older guy. Learning from all of the older guys helps me also."
Strongside linebacker Roger McIntosh has been making plays on the practice field including a very nice pass breakup drawing congratulatory comments from his teammates.
One player that has a spotlight on him and is expected to play at a high level this year is Leon Williams. The coaches have made it no secret publicly that he needs to step up.
"He should know the position and he has been here for four years," Coker said. "As far as linebackers go it is hard to tell until they get the pads on. I think he definitely knows the position, but he still has to make plays."
If Williams does not play up to the high level he needs to, Jon Beason will be more than happy to take over as the starting middle linebacker. Beason, who is up to 226 pounds, is having a strong start to fall practices.
"So far everything is great," Beason said. "If I have any mentals it is real rare. Coach Hargreaves wants us to learn the system real well and then we can just react when we are out there. I feel comfortable with the system now so I can just play. Just getting reps has helped me a lot with my transition."
Romeo Davis is enjoying getting along with his other fellow freshmen linebackers and is making a smooth transition to the college game.
"Everything is going pretty well," Davis said. "I am catching on pretty good. College is way faster than in high school."
Safety Anthony Reddick is the only true freshman on the two-deep right now playing as the free safety on the second unit. The biggest reason why Reddick has been able to make a quick adjustment to college is his work ethic in the weight room. He has had a great summer as the only freshman moved up with the upperclassmen and it has been no surprise he is one of the leaders when doing sprints at the end of practice.
Reddick's safety partner is Willie Cooper who redshirted last season. Cooper drew praise from coaches with his ability to hit in the spring and hopes to make an impact this season.
"These first couple of days have been great," Cooper said. "Everyone is out here competing and giving their all. We are trying to get back to the championship game this year and working hard from the start. Everyone has the same goal this year and we are all helping each other out. Every safety's biggest motive is to hit, but also be able to cover receivers. The biggest thing I have over my head is my ability to hit, but I attribute that to my teammates that allows me to come up with a big hit. I am looking forward to contributing to the team wherever I can and possibly on special teams."
Freshman walk-on Joe Tolliver was wearing number 25 today switching from number 27 he was originally awarded. The number 25 opened up with the departure of Bobby Washington.
On the third safety unit is strong safety Lovon Ponder and free safety Rashaun Jones. Both players have looked young in their first two days of practice.
WR Sinorice Moss injured his shoulder, but it does not appear to be anything serious. He returned to play soon after hurting his shoulder.
Status: Not expected to miss any practice
CB Kelly Jennings had off-season knee surgery and is being held out of some drills. The coaches do not want to rush him back if he is not ready.
TE Kevin Everett suffered a deep shoulder bruise yesterday after catching a pass in the middle of the field and taking a light hit from LB Willie Williams. He fell on it later in practice, but it is one of those injuries that hopefully go away by the time the season begins.
Status: Not expected to miss any practice
RB Frank Gore is recovering from a torn ACL (October 2) and ran well today with the first unit making cuts up field against a defense that did not practice defense in all drills. Assuming the next few days go well he will be in full pads on Saturday with the rest of the team.
CB Glenn Sharpe is recovering from a torn ACL (November 8) and did not participate in all drills. Assuming the next few days go well he will be in full pads on Saturday with the rest of the team.
CB Terrell Walden did not practice due to a torn ACL (April 8) he suffered during spring practices. He will not practice anytime soon and is a long shot to play this season.
Status: Out two to five months
Thursday, August 12th, 3:30 p.m. (open to the public)
Christopher Stock is a Staff Writer for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at email@example.com.
Practice Report: August 11th
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