Practice Report: Thursday, August 14

Thursday was the Sean Coffey show. The sophomore receiver showed several examples of brilliant pass receiving and appears to be coming into his own as a prime go-to target for Brad Smith.

Perhaps Sean Coffey's catching problems aren't so bad. Coffey, who has often been looked at as having the size and speed but not the hands, was the player of the day after making many incredible catches Thursday.

His best two catches were passes thrown to the outside that Coffey had to keep his feet in bounds while he caught the pass out of bounds. One went for a touchdown.

Sonny Riccio had by far his best day of camp. He had an impressive touchdown pass to Marcus James between three defenders.

Otherwise, Thursday was a day for the defense. Free safety Nino Williams and cornerback Orlando "Doc" Gooden each had fumble recoveries, and Marcus King, Josh Hibbetts and Henry Sweat had interceptions.

The defensive picture is beginning to clear up. Sophomore cornerback Calvin Washington is getting almost all of the time with the first team defense ahead of senior captain Terence Curry. Jason Simpson and Dedrick Harrington seem set at the whip and rover positions, and Brandon Barnes and James Kinney are solidifying the inside linebacker corps. The main questions right now are at free safety and the defensive line.

A big move Pinkel made was to switch Atiyyah Ellison from defensive end to defensive tackle, which demoted defensive tackle C.J. Mosley to backup. Russ Bell is the other starting defensive tackle, and Zach Ville is starting at defensive end. The other defensive end, though, is still questionable. Brian Smith, who is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, has shown the speed Pinkel has always wanted on the line. But Smith loses value for the rush defense, and lately, he has shown problems in containing the offensive backfield. Elgin Childress or Fabian Bean could get a chance to eat into Smith's playing time.

At free safety, no one knows quite yet who will be starting, or even who is ahead. Williams and David Overstreet are still adjusting to the position after Pinkel moved them from their original positions. Williams played cornerback in junior college, and Pinkel moved Overstreet from quarterback last season during Overstreet's redshirt year. Both have made good plays, but both have also been beaten on some plays as well. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is still working with them on their coverage.

"We compete every day hard," Overstreet said. "That's the way we are. We thrive on competition."

Finally, kicker Alex Petterson once again had a flawless day in drills. Mike Matheny went 4-of-5, missing from 44 yards. Petterson's 44-yarder could have gone at least another 5, if not 10, yards.

"Petterson's winning the job right now, and Matheny's No. 2, and it will be a fight to the finish," Pinkel said.

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