East Getting Ready for Saturday

SAN ANTONIO - As Saturday's game day creeps up, the East started fine tuning things at practice Thursday in preparation for the U.S. Army All-American game. The team was in shells and helmets, and mostly walked through situational stuff.

Practice at Gustafson Stadium began with the players dividing up by position and working on situational things.

The receivers were working on running the same route from different parts of the field, whether it be wide or from the slot. Notre Dame commit Greg Little, who ran with the No. 1 offense for the third-straight day, finally looked human and dropped a pass. Duval Kamara caught all his opportunities.

The defensive line was working on sniffing out draws and screens on third down. Irish commit Justin Trattou and recruit Ben Martin were the starting ends. Both were really good at driving into the line, but quickly stopping and reversing field in picking up a would be ball carrier or running back popping open for a screen.

The linebackers were working on shedding the guard and getting to the ball carrier. Irish commit Aaron Nagel and recruit Lorenzo Edwards are still learning the intricate details of the linebacker position. Both of them struggled to get under the pads of the guard and chuck him to the side en route to the runner. Head coach Greg Toal made his way over and was pretty intense the whole time, yelling chuck and snap. Edwards eventually got it down while Nagel got better.

Randy Taylor of Scout.com said that Gary Gray might have the best feet of all the East cornerbacks, and that includes Eric Berry. The Irish commit was battling a headache and didn't practice much.

It's becoming clear that if the offense goes to three receivers, the East will not change into a nickel package. Major Wright will come up from safety and cover the slot. Wright also gives the defense a 4-4 look, as he can slide into the box. On one goal-line option play, he ran down Chris Rainey in the open field.

In the goal-line defense, the East goes to five down linemen, with Trattou at left end with Martin lining up right next to him.

In about the only live action of the day, the offense couldn't score one time on the defense. On one play, they ran play action only for Edwards to blow the play up and drill the quarterback.

It looks like Robert Hughes is going to be the short-yardage back. The coaches like his shiftiness and vision. Not to mention, he is 5-foot-11, 228-pounds.

Expect to see some gadget plays with the East. They were working on a direct snap play to one of the speedy running backs, Rainey or Noel Devine, while the quarterback walked away from the line of scrimmage as a decoy looking confused. Another trick play involved Arrelious Benn in the slot and taking a handoff, then giving a reverse handoff to Tyrod Taylor (who will also play some quarterback), who will then throw the ball down the field to either Little or the tight end Aaron Hernandez underneath.

Phil Simms was at practice for the second straight day to watch his son Matt. Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer was also at practice.


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