I made it out a little late to the practice fields today and was shocked to see them empty. WHAT? No practice… Luckily, before I left I heard a whistle and walked into Rocky Long stadium and found the fellas smacking pads on the field.
I caught up with Asst. Coach Brian Spence (Eldorado Eagle YAFL team) and a loyal Red Menace guy and he mentioned that today was the finish of the Lobo Coaches Clinic. So I had my answer to why all these guys were hanging around the sideline watching practice. Del Norte, Eldorado, Rio Rancho, Valley, and the list goes on and on…
Well I missed the first 15 minutes as I thought they would just be warming up and running sprints, Coach Spence mentioned that I missed some excellent runs from JUCO QB Chris Nelson and some outstanding line play from Jr. Guard Bo Greer on the line. Dang it! I hate to miss practice time…
I have to admit that it was cool to roam the sidelines of Rocky Long Stadium as the play was going on and it was a very spirited scrimmage, as the pace once again was in and out, in and out, change players, formations, everything done at a super quick speed as the coaching staff is getting the most out of their time.
Both Carter and Baskett had a super day today as they were making some unbelievable catches and moves.
One note. Hank Baskett's groin injury has been well chronicled, and today as most days during practice this spring he could be seen writhing in pain or walking with a noticeable limp after making a superb catch. It just amazes me that this guy continues to not only work with the agonizing pain of his groin injury, but he stars while doing it.
The option play with Marcus Smith and Travis Brown picked up plenty of positive yards today including a touchdown, while the running backs weren't having their most productive day. (At least while I was watching.)
One disturbing trend today was the fumbles. We mentioned last week about the dropping of passes and how it becomes a team wide disease, well today it was the fumbles. Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, horrible exchanges from QB to halfback, bad snaps from center, QB's dropping pulling out from under center… Coach Dodd was certainly given his players a well deserved chastising.
Where to begin… I think we should start with the stuffing of the Lobo running game. Not once while I was there did I see a running back bust off a nice run. In fact any time Paul Baker, or Rodney Ferguson tried to bounce it outside a linebacker or safety was there to make a nice tackle. If they tried to go up the middle with Byrd or Ferguson, the nose tackle was there. Special props to Billy Brittain and Marcus Parker as they picked up plenty of shout outs for their hard work.
Then there was the pass rush. WOW! I believe I counted Quincy Black with 3 sacks, Aleem Harris with 2, and Michael Tuohy with 2-3. Those are just the numbers I noticed. There were plenty of others as the quarterbacks were forced to take the ball down or hold onto it, as the Lobo defensive coverage was extremely tough today.
Gabriel Fulbright and Jerrell Malone in my opinion have entrenched themselves as starters the upcoming season and neither disappointed today. Fulbright had two of the most impressive plays today, both against speedster Marcus Smith… First play Smith had a step on Fulbright and the ball was in the air. Gabe closed the distanced and tipped the ball out of the receiver's hand. The ball hung up and Fulbright made an unbelievable play for the INT but ended up tipping it the second time away from Smith and himself. The second play by Fulbright. Gabe was on the right slot as Marcus Smith took off on the WR option/ fly pattern. The ball was snapped as Smith is sprinting to the left after the hand off looking for an opening. Fulbright motored through traffic from right to left taking the angle and smacks Smith down as he found a seam.
Subscribers click here to see plays by Aleem Harris, Quincy Black, and Jerrell Malone.
The hitting from the safeties was once again something to behold as Aleem Harris aka The Punisher laid out a wide receiver (I believe Travis Brown) after he had a ball in his hands. The Punisher also was in the backfield taking down running backs before they could get started, but it was Anthony Carter who was laid out by Tyson Ditmore earning him the praise of the not only his teammates, but the high school and YAFL coaches on the sidelines. A good hit is a good hit at any level.
Offensive Players of the Practice
I have to go with Hank Baskett and Anthony Carter. Both young men found ways to get open and were catching the ball.
Defensive Player of Practice
#58 Michael Tuohy who earned both the praise and ire of Coach Long for his destruction on the field and not playing controlled football. The converted DL was responsible for 2-3 sacks, plenty of tackles that were jarring. To use a cliché, Tuohy hasn't found a ball carrier he doesn't like to blow up. Unfortunately, that includes the guys wearing the black jerseys… Black equals… Can't Touch this! It must be the hardest thing in the world not to unload on these guys but the rules are the rules and The Rock wasn't too happy with Tuohy's decision to knock down the QB's…