Coach D's Thoughts: East Practice

SAN ANTONIO – I must say I have been very disappointed with the San Antonio weather. I was hoping and wishing for some nice weather, but since Tuesday we have been treated to cold and windy conditions. That's the setting that the East squad practiced this AM.

Once again the East coaches went through special teams to begin the practice. Afterwards they broke into inside run and 7-on-7 drills. As before, the linemen went together to one side of the field while the linebackers and skill players rotated between the two drills. Following these two drills the teams came together for an extensive team period.

We were able to see a lot more action this morning that we witnessed yesterday. The practice was up-tempo with more reps and contact. It gave us a tremendous opportunity to make extensive evaluations of the Notre Dame commitments as well as several national players who stood out.



As he has all week John Goodman continues to display outstanding quickness and burst off the line of scrimmage. The East quarterbacks didn't come his way very much but Goodman was able to work himself open on several occasions. He opened the team period with a 15-yard gain on a "curl" route. The only other two passes thrown his way were a "go" route that was tossed several yards out of bounds, and another "curl" route that was thrown into the ground by Terrelle Pryor.

Goodman continues to be the East receiver who gets the most opportunities to run trick plays. The most impressive was a "hook-and-ladder" play where Goodman caught a "curl" route in front of Robert Blanton and made a nice pitch to Lamaar Thomas who took the ball another 25 yards for an easy touchdown.


The East tight ends continue to receive limited opportunities to catch the football. This morning Rudolph only had two passes thrown in his direction. One was on a "seam" route in which the quarterback overshot him by several feet into the waiting arms of safety Brandon Smith. The second pass was on a screen pass where Blanton ripped through the blockers and made the tackle for a short gain. Rudolph ran several "flag" routes and beat either the safety or linebacker over the top. He has been sharper in his route running than I previously seen. This is a good sign.

Rudolph continues to hold his own as a blocker. As he continues to fill out and get stronger he has a chance to be an outstanding complete tight end. He is more than just a pass catcher. One area where he will need to improve is working against the zone defense. On two occasions he was working the zone and settled down too close to the linebackers.


Clelland got a little dinged up today. I couldn't tell what the injury was, but Clelland was limping a bit towards the end of practice. He worked through it and continued to practice. Clelland continues to struggle at the point of attack. His issues are a lack of strength and technique. As I've stated previously, when he comes off well and gets into the defender he is able to impress. But he doesn't do it that often and allows defenders to get into him and knock him back. It's been a rough week for the McDonough High standout.


The young Golic had a much better practice this morning. He more than held his own against the East defensive tackles. He still struggles against bull rushes, but when he's able to get moving he looks good. He also was able to back block on at least three occasions against Marcus Forston and DeAngelo Tyson and get them off the play. I was encouraged by Golic's efforts today, but it doesn't change the fact he is a few years away from being able to physically hold up for 60+ snaps a game. Golic is actually a freshman who could contribute as a freshman as a long snapper, as he has impressed in that regard. But the hope I have for him is that he can sit out as a freshman and save a year.


Physically Fleming has been the most impressive Irish recruit during the week. He is without a doubt the quickest East defensive end. Fleming has an outstanding burst off the edge and displayed some nice pass rush moves. He was a problem for the East offensive tackles all day. The only time he was blocked well was on a crack back block where Lamaar Thomas and Brice Butler caught him peeling back and popped him. Other than that Fleming was in the backfield all day making plays. If he continues this play through the week I'm confident he'll force national analysts to put him into their Top 50 and perhaps give him a 5th star. He has been that good this week. What's also encouraging is how much Darius has reshaped his body for his senior year. He has gained at least 15-20 pounds and is actually quicker as a senior than he was as a junior.


Cwyner continues to show good strength and quickness off the ball. He will never impress you with tremendous athleticism but he will impress you with his strength, initial burst, and his much improving technique. Cwyner gave A.J. Harmon fits all day. He was consistently beating Harmon and disrupting the run game throughout the morning practice. As the week has advanced Cwyner has been much more effective using his hands, and again today showed a nice spin move and swim move to beat the East guards.


Every analyst I sat with this morning just raved about Newman's performance during the morning practice. He and Forston were without a doubt the two most productive defensive tackles during both the team and inside run periods. Newman consistently beat the interior offensive linemen off the ball and spent the majority of the morning practice in the East backfield. As the practice drug on he began to wear down. If he comes in better shape this fall he is proving he has the strength, quickness, and attitude to push for playing time. My opinion of Newman has officially changed during the week of practice. I'm not the only one to share that view, either.

Filer has slowly but surely gotten more comfortable in the 4-3 defense. The East coaches continue to use him at all three linebacker positions. At the end of this morning's practice he got some work at defensive end opposite Darius Fleming. Filer showed a nice burst off the edge and got into the backfield on two occasions. Filer showed much better sideline to sideline speed and was more instinctive. He is still struggling a bit in pass coverage, but made a lot more plays day against the run.


With the East down to only two healthy cornerbacks Blanton and Boubacar Cissoko had to take every rep at the cornerback position. Blanton was hands down the best cornerback this morning. During the 7-on-7 and team periods not one pass was completed against him.....literally. Blanton didn't do much press coverage instead playing a soft man defense. The East quarterbacks threw several deep balls on Blanton to Johnathan Baldwin, DeVier Posey, John Goodman, and Brice Butler. Not one was completed as Blanton locked down the East receivers all afternoon. As mentioned before, on a tight end screen late in the practice Blanton blew through two blockers to tackle Rudolph for a short gain.



The Alabama commitment has grown on me during the week. He's shown to be more than just a good athlete with a good arm. Jackson needs a lot of technical work but has a good feel in the pocket, has a good release, and throws the ball well. He has really stood out as the best passer on the East squad.


Williams has been outstanding the last two days. He is jet quick and broke off several long runs during the inside run period.


Butler continues to impress with his route running and smooth hands. On a "seam' route he beat the underneath coverage and adjusted nicely to a beautiful pass from Star Jackson in the window underneath the safety for about a 25-yard gain. You couldn't design a wide receiver better suited for the USC offense. It pains me to say that.


Posey has been impressive during the entire week. He's very smooth and faster than I gave him credit for previously. He has the ability to play right away at Ohio State.


Nix got banged up late but had arguably his best practice of the week. He's a massive kid who gets off the ball well and plays nasty. He got beat a few times as a guard but didn't get beat once that I saw as a tackle.


Forston is the best linemen on the East squad. He was great all morning. He and Newman made a number of plays in the backfield. Newman was almost un-blockable when matched against the East guards. He's proven himself to be the nation's top defensive tackle, and there isn't much question about that.


Hale has gotten much better as the week has gone on. As he gets used to playing end he gets better and better. He doesn't think as much and just flies off the ball. He beat Mike Adams all day. He literally made four consecutive tackles during the inside run period.


Sabino has made a strong case, along with Arthur Brown as the East's top linebacker. He plugged the middle all morning and stuffed Williams and Thomas on several runs in between the tackles. He took on and shed blocks all morning.


You won't find a faster or more athletic linebacker in the nation than Arthur Brown. He's a true sideline-to-sideline beast and has backed up the national hype. He closed tremendously well all day and is impossible to get around to the outside. He's been impressive.


Smith struggled to cover Brice Butler and Kyle Rudolph but shut down everyone else. He flowed hard in run support and shows good pass coverage skills. He's a really good safety prospect who I didn't know much about. I do now! Top Stories