Saturday afternoon's practice brought Lobo fans a full pad scrimmage complete with full contact, bust you in the mouth defense, and the Lobo offense running their new offensive packages. Saturday's practice was also the first time those of us that have been going to practice this week heard Running Backs Coach Cornell Jackson raise his voice, and raise his voice he did!
We tried speaking to Coach Jackson (running backs coach) after the 1st practice this spring and he politely told us to give him a few days so that he could see exactly what he had on the team. So all week long Coach Jackson was relatively quiet and went about his business of coaching the running back corps… Well I guess Coach Jackson has his answer as he started demanding more from his players and when Coach Jackson demands something it is vocal and rough. "I'll tell you what, I have a great group of guys from the standpoint of they can take my coaching," says Jackson. "My coaching is a bit rough, but all those guys can take it!" And take it they did after a block was missed (I won't use names to protect both the innocent and guilty) Coach Jackson was berating the player for the lack of execution. "What the heck is that? Where is the effort? Are you watching what is happening out there? Do you want to play football today? But it wasn't just negative, when Martelius Epps broke off a nice run where he busted 3-4 tackles the first guy to congratulate him? When Matthew Quillen stopped the blitzing linebacker, who was the guy going crazy? After practice Coach Jackson went on to say…
L- Cornell Jackson with #44 A. Byrd
My coaching style is this. I'm going to show passion. I'm not mad at them. I want them to know that if something is going on that is important that they here it from me. If they hear that urgency from me then I think they are going to perform better out here.
None of the running backs were exempt as DonTrell Moore was with the rest of his backfield teammates and coach on the sidelines watched a play action pass play. Coach Jackson turned around and asked each player why they were watching the wide receiver and offensive line. "Why aren't you watching what the running back is doing," asked Jackson. "You are running backs. Watch what the running back is doing and how you can learn from him and do better. This is your craft! Learn your craft."
Now Coach Jackson and the running backs weren't the only ones at practice today. Like I said it was a full contact, slobber knocking, ass kicking, vomit inducing, Rock Long football practice that Lobo fans have grown to love. How much has it grown? Well the first year that I started going to spring practices there weren't very many fans on the sidelines. Today there were plenty of fans out to check out the Lobos. All I needed was a beer and a braut and it would have felt like a real game!
The ‘scrimmage' started off with the defense dominating. Plenty of stops, pops, and drops. It wouldn't be Lobo football if the defense didn't open up the scoring… and there goes #48 Justin Clayton with a sweet interception return for a touchdown. What made the play sweet was Clayton's juke move that froze the offensive player long enough for Clayton to collect his 6! Another player on fire was recently converted linebacker Micheal Tuohy who by my count collected at least 2 sacks and was in on plenty of tackles. Not bad for a guy just learning the position.
#58 Michael Tuohy with the big sack
It's been a tough adjustment but I'm starting to get used to it now. I'm starting to get the feel for playing backer now.
What's been the toughest part?
Just the coverages. It is a little tough getting used to that coming from D-line, but I'm starting to adjust and it is starting to work.
What is the best part of moving to linebacker?
I can use my speed a lot more off of the edge.
So freeing you up allows you to attack the ball carriers more and be more aggressive from the linebacker spot?
No, it doesn't really make a difference in our defense is all attack no matter what position you play… You're attacking!
What does Michael Tuohy have to do to be a starter this year?
I've got to come out here and play balls to the wall everyday and do something to impress the coaches.
Mr. Tuohy wasn't the only defensive player impressive today making his bid from the linebacker position as Joe Selander recovered a fumble. Quincy Black has quickly turned into a monster on the outside with his quickness and vicious hits on the ball. Today we were able to see Aleem Harris light up Paul Baker while trying to recover a fumble…
I know, I know the defense is always ahead of the offense during spring and that is true, but the offense finally got on track as the running game started to work somewhat and the new triple option offense started causing some problems. Martelius Epps as stated earlier had a beautiful run off tackle that he bounced to left, cut up right, and ended up back on the left side… in his wake were at least 6 Lobo defenders that grasped air, or were spun around… Kole McKamey also hooked up with Hank Baskett who flat out burned his defender for the first offensive touchdown.
Next came the offensive play of the scrimmage as the Lobos offense was using the new motion offense. They set it up perfectly as Marcus Smith went into motion behind the QB they faked the tailback dive and went into a WR option play, that the QB (McKamey at the time) kept and picked up a couple of yards. I was with TheRedMenace.com staff member Daniel Harper at the time and said that offensive set is the one that will open up so much. He responded there is so many options off this package and I said, my favorite is when they play fake to the fullback/tailback on a dive play and the QB just keeps the ball and follows the running back through the hole. (ala Navy last year) Lo and behold the offense ran that exact play the next play and 60+ yards later Lobo QB Chris Nelson was in the end zone. It was really the first time I've seen Nelson really use his legs and once again if anyone thinks he was just brought in to hang out. You're nuts! The guy has a nice arm and some wheels…
I know people are getting jazzed up hearing about the new motion, wide open, Air Dodd, or whatever you want to call it offense, but don't start thinking McKamey is the second coming of Jeremy Leach… Here comes the grind it up smash mouth offense with Adrian Byrd, Matthew Quillen, just pounding the interior of the Lobo defense, and little dink and dunk passes to Lobo wide outs. It was the offensive style that Lobo fans have grown to love and loathe last year. Well today they loved it as Daniel Ramirez capped off the drive when he went off tackle and blasted through a sweet hole to finish the scoring and practice.
Red Menace offensive player of practice
#20 WR Keith Griego
#20 WR Keith Griego
You know a wide receiver is having a nice practice when every time he comes off the field after making difficult crossing route receptions over the middle the first guys over to congratulate him are The Hitmen. Griego 5-8 160lb walk on from Las Vegas NM was that guy today as he made every reception in traffic taking a pounding on nearly every play. After one series where Griego went over the middle he ran to the sidelines, vomited, took in more fluids, and ran back out to make even more receptions. Griego was a workhorse today and displayed the desire to be the best!
Red Menace defensive player of practice
#91 Quincy Black
"Q" What can you say about Black other then he is a big man with some quicks that loves to hit people. Today was no different as Quincy was in on tackles, was in the offensive backfield on at least 2 occasions that I seen where he would have drilled the QB.