Spring Practice Update: Saturday 4/5

The <b>Wildcats</b> were back inside on a cold windy morning. <br><br> We got explanations on a few missing players and watched the <b>NU</b> Offense show flashes of brilliance. When the O wasn't shining it was usually because the <b>Defense</b> was doing its job, even the newest Cornerback...

Report from Spring Practice: Day 2 in Pads

General Notes:

1. Junior Tackle Trai Essex is officially taking a leave of absence from the football program:
To concentrate better on his academic pursuits
His return?
its kind of up to him. He needs to do a lot better, and its been an ongoing thing with him and we came to an agreement...its something we've come to together, I love him, I think he could become a great player, but he needs to do a better job academically.
NU officials want to stress that he is not academically ineligible.

2. Junior DT Colby Clark was thrown out of practice by Coach Randy Walker -

He likes to fight more than he likes to play...I get tired of stopping drills so I decided to make an example and we'll get it fixed.
Special Teams
Those who worry about the kicking game: Brian Huffman and Joel Howells handled kicking in the Kick-off drills - they were kicking the ball from one end to the practice field to the other.

Placekicking looked like tryouts: Huffman, and Howells, along with Slade Larscheid and Ryan Pederson all took a shot at the crossbars. Its too soon to tell who actually is the leader, but Huffman put a couple up on the wall between the uprights.

Jason Wright was doing most of the run backs when I was paying attention.

1. Marquice Cole had a pick.

2. The Cats again ran the 3-3-5 along with a standard 4-3 front. In the 5 back defense, Jr. Dominique Price is playing almost up on the line on the strong side to cover both the run and the pass. At the end of practice they really stuffed Jason Wright for a pretty good loss to the delight of all of the defensive players.

3. They are moving quite a number of players in and out of the defense. After Colby got to sit out, Barry Colfield took over his spot in the middle.

4. Coach Jerry Brown told us after practice that he has 4 of the fastest 6 players on the team in the defensive backfield so they like to get as many out there as they can.

5. He also said that moving Jeff Backes to D was Coach Walker's idea - they just didn't have a place to start him on offense. Brown really likes having Backes there. What he lacks in experience he makes up for with speed. He broke up a long pass and told coach Brown that he should have caught it. Jerry Brown agreed. [I think Larry Watts is planning a story on all this, so I'll save the interview material for later]

1. Both Brett Basanez and Alexander Webb were running a few option plays. I understand that they're gathering more info on this potential part of the spread offense. Both Basanez and Webb pitched the ball - both Wright and Herron gained yardage on the option play.

2. Basanez looked very sharp today - his passes were on target and he seemed to be able to move around well.

3. You can distinguish the QBs, who all wear green jersey's this way: Basanez has a black support bandage on his leg. Webb is the other white guy, Derrell Jenkins is the black QB wearing green, Joe Ferguson is the QB wearing Orange. Its hard to tell from their playing - everyone is really pushing hard to try to catch Basanez, right now good luck.

4. WR Mark Philmore certainly has a few moves, especially after he catches the ball.

And the most positive note - the last 11 on 11 practice play was a short pass to Noah Herron, who ran the all about 12 yards before the defense finally dragged him down. It gave the Offense something to cheer about at the end of practice.

Once again, these 'Cats are fired up. To be sure, they miss the Senior leadership of Austin King and Jeff Roehl, but several other players have stepped up into the leadership role, and its not just one or two out front here.

Only 4 players failed the physical conditioning test, Walker says its the best he's ever had anywhere.

I'm looking forward to April 26th to see just how good these Wildcats can get this spring. >

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