"We had some hitting," Croom said. "And I thought we competed very well."
On both sides of the ball, too. Croom commented on how the defense consistently runs to the ball now. At the same time the offense, which is still busy learning as much as doing, appears to be getting on their feet. Croom and coordinator Woody McCorvey were able to spend much of their weekend time installing new plays, particularly third-down offense. "We're getting our core stuff in for every situation that we might encounter on third down," Croom said. "Some of it was new from the spring and I thought they picked that up pretty well."
The big position news Saturday came on the defensive side, though. First-team cornerback Quinton Culberson worked as a strong safety, something he had been approached about by Croom and coordinator Ellis Johnson. "Because he's a real good football player and we've got to get him close to the football," Croom said.
The initial results were promising as sophomore Culberson made a series of plays in nine-on-seven drills. "More than we've done in all our practices together," Croom said. The coach added that the ankle Culberson wrecked last November at Kentucky still gets sore, a problem for corner-coverage. "And out there at corner he's just too far from the football," Croom added.
"He likes it now, and no question it will be a benefit to him. And I think he's got a lot better chance of being a high draft choice at safety than at corner. I don't know too many 220-pound corners playing in the NFL." The move was also made because the cornerback positions are looking better after a week of work. Left CB Kevin Dockery has been consistently praised by the coaches, and on the other side sophomore David Heard is progressing.
Croom likes what he's seen of Mario Bobo at right corner, as the rookie took some snaps with the first team; and he has hopes for transfer Brian Staley there. "He's just got to get in shape, but he can move around at that position."
A good portion of the day was spent in nine-on-seven and five-on-seven drills to test the skill players on both sides of the line. The offense used three and four receiver sets while the defensive practiced in regular and ‘nickle' coverages to test the revised back-seven. This also allowed quarterbacks Omarr Conner and Kyle York more practice against different defensive schemes.
The first secondary now shows Marvin Byrdsong, Brad Horton, and Clarence McDougal (over his dislocated finger) at linebackers, ahead of Kenny Kern, Titus Brown, and Chris Swain. Darren Williams is set at #1 free safety with Slovakia Griffith and Brett Morgan battling for the second spot. Now Jeramie Johnson has to fight off Culberson at strong safety with freshman De'Mon Glanton and converted walk-on quarterback Brett Wilcutt practicing third-team.
Tailback Jerious Norwood did not practice either session Saturday, sidelined by back spasms. Offensive guard Will Rogers (left ankle) stayed inside for treatment most of the morning, then watched his unit working out in the afternoon. None of the players missing Friday were activated Saturday. Wide receiver McKinley Scott is taking it easy with a minor hamstring pull. Fullback Bryson Davis (hamstring) and offensive guard Johnny Wadley (ankle) wore yellow jerseys and were limited to non-contact drills. Starting deep snapper Russell Cook also wore a yellow jersey after rolling his ankle earlier in the week. Wide receiver Ray Ray Bivines (hamstring rehab), running back Demarcus Johnson (hamstring pull), and defensive end Stephen Arant (shoulder) have worn the red-cross jerseys and did not practice all week. But Arant did not have his left arm in a sling this day.
Croom is giving the Bulldogs a day-off from regular practices Sunday, and the team will attend Ebenezer Baptist Church for morning worship services. Monday is the last round of two-a-day practices.
Reid had kept up with weather reports, and he knew the local history that Gulf hurricanes usually miss the Tampa bay area. Charley looked to be an exception. "They were worried because they were pretty sure it was going to come their way," Reid said. "And it was an hour away, but it didn't come. It was real scary because this about the first time one was going to come their way. They got lucky again. It took a load off my mind because I'd been hearing about it all week."
David Murray is the editor of Dawgs' Bite magazine and the featured writer for the Dawgs Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.