I spoke to both Safeties Coach Danny Gonzales and Linebackers Coach Tony White and the word of the day was "reps." As in the amount of reps the players they are coaching are receiving.
The LB corps has two returning players with experience in Zach Arnett and Herbert Felder, and while this group is talented, they are inexperienced and for the most part young. Add in that Coach Tony White is in his first year of coaching and it is all new to these guys… Or is it? Coach White is very familiar with what Coach Long is teaching and he is busting his butt along with everyone else to get prepared this season.
Obviously the reps spoken tonight were quite evident as the Lobos scrimmaged for over an hour popping pads, heads, and a surprise to nobody out there, the defense once again took the lead as they swarmed to the ball, flushed QB's, tore down running backs, and brought the heat that Rocky Long football is.
By my unofficial count I have Clint McPeek INT for a TD, Jake Bowe had an INT, Chris Biren had an INT for a TD when Mike Love threw a devastating block to free the young LB for a TD! For those purists, I know I'm missing one more INT… If someone that was there wants to remind me who it was please do so!
The offense wasn't completely dead as the duo bruising RB tandem of Rodney Ferguson and James Wright both scored touchdowns, but other than that Lobo QB's were harassed, abused, and flushed on a regular basis. When the QB's were able to make throws various receivers were flat out dropping them. I know Coach Baldwin was not pleased with many performances tonight.
Listen I'm not going to lie to anyone here, I've kind of overlooked the LB's so far this spring. I hope they aren't offended, but I've really been watching the D-line and the defensive backfield. So this evening I tried focus on LB's today as this group is one of the least experienced, and tonight these guys gave me a lot to write about.
This isn't a flashy group of stars here, these guys so far have shown me to be lunch pail guys. Guys that don't give you that shock and awe, but they sure find a way to get to the ball carrier and put a lick on said ball carrier.
We know Arnett and Felder are the "old men" of the group, they have seen playing time, and know how to smack someone! That leaves us with a bunch of young guys that are stepping up and working to get not only playing time but on the travel squad.
The LB that has caught my eye this spring has been Julion Conley. I haven't seen one spectacular play that stands out in my mind, but I constantly find myself looking down at my roster and saying… Yeah Conley again…. 48 around the ball…
Greyson Wieczorek is wearing the blue jersey so we haven't really seen much of him in full contact, though he is out there learning his craft.
Tonight though there were plenty of LB's trying to make the grade, stepping up, it was go time and I was super impressed with frosh Chris Biren. The touchdown run aside he was ball hawking and is a physical presence at 6-3 235. I was double impressed that after practice was over he was talking with Coach White about how to continue to grow.
Carmen Messina has also been another of those that is active and finds his nose around the ball.
Check out the helmet of Seth Johannemann! The guy knows how to stick his nose in and make a nuisance of himself!
Offensive Player of the Day
Wright looks stopped!
Check out this run by James Wright for the Lobo's 2nd offensive TD. He takes on Frankie Baca, Seth Johannemann, and Jerrell Miller en route to the Lobo score. Many people expect Ferguson and Baker to play the most at RB this year, but keep an eye out for #13, he is making a serious push this spring!
Defensive Player of Practice
#51 Chris Biren
As I said earlier in this report, he had the INT for the TD and was in all kind of mess. Let me say this, for me to really notice this guy was hard as the Lobo defense was a juggernaut tonight. (Sorry Coaches I know you gotta yell at ‘em) but there were so many exciting individual performances. Still I had to pick one and the guy I kept seeing all day was Chris Biren.
#26 Frankie Baca (La Cueva HS, Albuquerque)
Yet another tough choice as Danny Martin (St. Pius) and Mike Love (Rio Rancho) where also playing some serious ball tonight, but in the end it was Frankie Baca that was leveling ball carriers.