Running back Jonas Gray was not spotted at practice after tweaking his ankle on Monday afternoon. Linebacker/defensive end Darius Fleming was in sweats, but still going through the walk-thru portion of the drills.
The workout began with agilities to get the players loosened up in the cold Texas wind.
Center Michael Golic Jr. was certainly the smallest of all the offensive linemen. Nose tackle Brandon Newman looks to have the same build as Irish freshman Ian Williams. Cwynar certainly passes the eye-ball test.
Following agilities, the East began with special teams. Working on onside kick, Kyle Rudolph was in the front row of the hands team, and John Goodman was in the second row. Linebacker Steve Filer was on the recovery team.
When the team went to field goal, Goodman was the holder, and Rudolph was the left end.
The team went from special teams to position drills.
The running backs minus Gray were doing agility things around bags. The receivers and tight ends were running short, intermediate and crossing routes. The quarterbacks were throwing screens, and the offensive line was just learning their responsibilities within the new offense. They were also doing get-offs, stance and starts.
Defensively, the secondary and linebackers were working on back-pedal drills, while the d-line was hitting the sled and working on pass-rush moves.
Following individual drills, the team did some 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work. There was also battles between the offensive and defensive line.
Quick assessments from Driskell and Wiltfong.
Goodman: He looked as athletic as anyone out there, showed great footwork and real good quickness. Went through a spell where he dropped three balls in a row, but other than that showed great hands and ability. His drops had more to do with technique things than being able to catch the ball, similar to Duval Kamara at last year's game. Goodman is running with what looks to be the first team, but remember it's only one-and-a-half practices in.
Rudolph: Looked great in limited pass-catching opportunities. Mostly used as a blocker where he performed well, but needs to use his hands better but played with great leverage and effort. As far as catching the rock, he lined up in the slot on one 11-on-11 play, and easily streaked down the field for a nice 40-yard touchdown score. Rudolph is a couple inches taller than Jake Stoneburner, the East's other tight end, and just looks like a straight athlete.
Lane Clelland: They used him at right tackle. He shows good athletic ability, decent punch, but struggles with lack of size. He needs to add at least 20 more pounds. Was better during team periods than individual ones. Looks to be on the second unit right now.
Golic: He was just out-matched physically. Will need a couple years in the weight room before he seriously challenges for playing time, but he does play with good technique. He is very consistent with those frightening shotgun snaps, and gets to the second level of the defense well. Just moves well overall.
Robert Blanton: Used at both safety and corner with the East being down to five defensive backs after an injury to cornerback T.J. Bryant. He has real good footwork, smooth and physical, and has tremendous instincts. Those instincts were evident in a soft-man coverage scenario where he quickly broke on the football for a pick six. He struggled with consistency and in press coverage.
Newman: He was very strong at the point of attack. Gets off the ball quickly and plays with great leverage. Is going to be a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense, a plugger. Looks a little out of shape, similar to Emeka Nwankwo and Williams last year. Needs to further redefine his body.
Cwynar: He showed good quickness off the ball. Holds up really well at the point of attack and showed surprisingly good pass-rush moves. He showed a good swim and spin moves to get in the backfield. Real consistent this morning, and will definitely compete with DeAngelo Tyson for a starting defensive tackle spot next to Marcus Forston.
Steve Filer: It was hard to get a good read on any of the linebackers because they weren't asked to do much out there today. He is certainly is the biggest of the very talented bunch. He looked more smooth than fast.
Highlights: Other than Rudolph's touchdown catch, and Blanton's interception, a few of the Irish verbal commits were involved in nice plays. Goodman used a nice stop and go to beat Blanton deep. Clelland had a nice block on Nigel Bradham, driving him back and getting into the second level.
Note: They were throwing a lot of screens to Goodman, and a few to Rudolph. It seemed like they were trying to find ways to get Goodman the ball, whether with halfback passes, or those screens.
We will be at the West's afternoon practice. Stay tuned.