FOCUS ON THE OFFENSE
Rahman Lockhart was the most physically imposing player of the group. The juco transfer, who still has four years of eligibility remaining, continued to look good in drills. He has good balance, and solid football posture. Whether that translates into playing time in the fall depends on whether he can sustain that in live action, and picking up the calls (Pinkel mentioned 37 different calls for O-lineman when he was asked about the transfer of Russ Bell to defense). Again, Lockhart LOOKS like a young Orlando Pace. Let's hope he plays like one when the live action comes his way. He is in very good shape.
The other good news was that while JUCO newcomers Steve Sanchez and Howard Brissette are not in great shape, they also aren't as bad as thought on first glance. It is easy to see why coaches where rumored to be a little higher on Sanchez than Brissette. Sanchez has a little better footwork. He tends to look like he is gliding as he moves across the line, which is important for an offensive lineman. I also heard that both were involved quite a bit in the off-season program (apparently not for sustained periods of time, hence the apparent weight gains, so their strength should be decent).
Joel Clinger is a big boy. He has that big, strapping country boy look as he lumbers to the line, and he is a space eater. I suspect coaches will work hard on his footwork in the upcoming year. He is a worthwhile project but will almost certainly be a redshirt candidate this fall. One scribe (who I will leave unnamed) thought he compared somewhat to Justin Bland...Justin Bland as a freshman, that is.
Walk-on Stanford Richardson looked a little on the small side for an O-Lineman. However, he did seem to display some nice speed in the morning wind sprints.
I didn't catch much of Tizzio or Cook.
Mario Whitney was a surprise to me. I expected him to be bigger. They list him at 185, but I would guess that's with wet clothes and a golf bag full of bricks over his shoulder. He is very athletic and once he sees some daylight, he is definitely off to the races. I had assumed he was more of a juke type runner, but this kid is pretty much north-south. He got a lot of work today, as he was the only RB. Athlete QB David Overstreet was just as impressive when he spelled him a couple of times during 7-on-7 drills. Same type of runner, same type of speed, maybe a little more moves. It begs the question a bit about Overstreet's eventual permanent position.
QB's - All three looked very good mechanically. It was evident they were working with Overstreet on trying to get him to place his front foot towards the receiver he was throwing to. In most instances he was successful. All three kids looked good. Josh Hibbetts may have looked the most polished of the young group at this point. He is much like Brad Smith in that he simply looks like he belongs in the pocket. Several times he looked away defenders, or would-be defenders, before delivering a very quick ball. He probably has the quickest ball of all three QB's, but none are slouches. It will be a very tough decision as to who stays at QB, and who goes elsewhere.
DeQuincy Howard – again a guy who got a lot of reps (and therefore a lot of one-on-one) today. He either didn't get here much over the summer, or is having a hard time grasping the offense (or both). He isn't real big in the upper body, but it is easy to see why the coaching staff liked him. Pretty good hands today, and real good speed.
Alex Mackey, I didn't see a lot of this tall, rangy walk-on, but his height alone helped him get noticed.
Alex Petterson (91), and Josh Randolph (93) both got a lot of practice today. Pinkel paid close attention. Both got off to slow starts, but after Pinkel left, they both found a very good rhythm and started booming kicks. They were very hard to judge as they were from the 10 (but kicking as far as they could through the end zone. Most were good, and I'd say in the 40-45 yard range (that's strictly a guess, and a rough one at that). Early in the competition it looked like Petterson had the stronger and more accurate leg, but if you just watched the second half of their kicks, you would have to rate them extremely close.
Russ Bell and Zach Ville worked on the interior of the defensive line this afternoon, while Fabian Bean and Brian Smith (96) worked at the end positions. I hadn't seen this in the morning drills as they never really lined up earlier.
Dedrick Harrington looked good in 7-on-7 drills. The coaches were all over Emmett Morris in this drill, and were really trying to instill running to the ball (from all over the field) to the entire defense. Micklewright also looked okay (I just saw him a couple of times). It's funny because Mau looks slow when he goes side to side, but he seems to display a burst of speed when going forward (so far, he does not look like he has Big 12 speed for a linebacker.)
PINKEL PRESS CONFERENCE
HOW FAR DOES RUSS BELL HAVE TO COME BEFORE HE IS "THERE"?
"Well someone who hasn't played football for a few years, that's certainly an adjustment. He's doing well, I mean he's very strong, physical athlete. From the standpoint of getting pads on and getting in the mix, and do those type things, time will tell there, but certainly encouraged. He has a great attitude. It's certainly easier to learn a defensive line position than an offensive line position. That's one of the reasons we decided to go on that side of the football."
ORIGINALLY HE WANTED TO TRY OFFENSIVE LINE?
"His choice either one, but what we try to do is look at the reality of it, and how difficult the offensive line is to learn. From a time standpoint, he might be able to do it, but time-wise, not be able to prepare himself, so we decided at that time, I gave him a choice, kind of presented both of them, and he made a decision, but he's certainly athletic and quick enough to play defensive tackle. Now he gets another 31-32 practices he gets to work on and we will see what happens."
WHEN DO YOU ANTICIPATE ZWILLING COMING IN TO PRACTICE
"He's got some personal issues. Hopefully, he'll come in shortly, but I'm not sure."
YOU DO EXPECT HIM AT SOME POINT?
"I don't know. Hopefully."
YOU'VE GOT ANOTHER PLAYER WHO HAS BEEN AWAY FROM FOOTBALL FOR A YEAR OR SO, IN YOUR OL RAHMAN LOCKHART, HOW IS HE PROGRESSING AS FAR AS GETTING INTO FOOTBALL SHAPE?
"Well I think he is a really good athlete. We knew that when he came in. He hasn't played football for awhile. We felt very comfortable that he is the right kind of athlete. He has four years of eligibility, so there's not a rush like (Russ Bell) he's got two years of eligibility and there's a rush where you have to get something out of him right this minute. So he has the time factor there a little bit, Offensive line he's going to need that. Whole key is to dive into the program, everyday do the things necessary and hopefully he'll mature Time-wise I don't know. I wish I knew exactly for everyone of those guys maturity time. It would make things a lot easier for me sleeping."
ON A DAY WHERE PLAYERS ARE LEARNING BASICALLY EVERYTHING, WHAT DOES A COACH LEARN ON A DAY LIKE THIS?
We are constantly evaluating personnel. Just constantly. Every second out there. As a staff, like we do after every practice, all during two-a-days, even when veterans come in, we talk about every single player after every single practice. Constantly analyzing personnel. The big thing we're trying to do right now, and we might not know this for another week and a half, exactly who can help our football team this year, and who can't. Or, can a guy go to another position and help this year. If they can help us win, and the other thing is that we handle the red-shirt issue, and that we don't make any mistakes there. Which I would suggest that we don't do that.
MARIO OBVIOUSLY HAS A LOT OF QUICKNESS, DOES HE HAVE THE SIZE HE NEEDS?
"He's about 185 now. Well first of all he has to get up on the depth (chart). He's number 7th or 8th tailback right now. He's got to compete, get up on the depth, and if he gets up into the top three spots I think you evaluate and see how many touches a guy like that is going to get in a game. Maybe run the ball 5-6 times a game, and throw it to him 3 or 4 times. Get him in the perimeter. The more he can handle the more you give him… I certainly think he's got a lot of tools. A lot of it is just the intensity level, and playing at the speed he has, we know he is very fast."
IT'S EARLY IN CAMP, BUT DO YOU FEEL BETTER ABOUT YOUR KICKING SITUATION THIS YEAR AS OPPOSED TO LAST YEAR?
"Not at this point. No. I'll probably answer that the week before we play Illinois. I'm certainly expecting to get that straightened out though."
FINAL QUOTE FROM PINKEL FOR THE DAY
"I don't thing creating turnovers is a fluke. I think they are caused by great hitting, by great speed. By attacking style defenses, very physical defenses and we didn't do that very much last year and that's why we didn't get very many."