We went to the West morning practice today and the West essentially had a walk-through practice. Once again the West wasn't very excited to be at practice. Nobody really knows how well this team will do because they don't practice hard.
The practice began with the offense walking through a number of plays, including some gadget plays. While I don't want to tip off the offensive plays, I'd expect at least one gadget play involving wide receiver Shaquelle Evans on Saturday. The blocking of the West hasn't been that great, so it will be interesting to see how many of these gadget plays actually work. I did notice that a lot of plays were designed to get Shaq the ball, so they must like his ability to make plays.
Chris Watt continues to run first team on the offensive line at right guard. However, I have nothing to offer on Watt today because he didn't hit a single guy in anger today—nobody did on either line. The O-line and D-line just engaged each other and the held all day, so there really wasn't anything to gain from watching that, unfortunately.
The same thing can be said for Cierre Wood. Wood ran a number of plays as a running back, and caught a few balls, but he was running half-speed, and the blocking was half-speed. It was a walk-through, so the main point of the practice is just making sure everyone knew what they were doing on each play.
We did get to see Shaquelle Evans during some one-on-one drills today against some defensive backs. Shaq was moving pretty well out there today. Again, I'm impressed with how smooth he is as a receiver. He runs pretty good routes, although he could come off the line of scrimmage with a little more authority. Once he gets to college, he'll face much more physical defensive backs, and he'll have to learn to use his hands better at the line of scrimmage to get open.
He also has that extra burst needed when the ball is in the air to pull away from a defender. I've been surprised by his overall speed. He really is a great athlete.
We saw him in five one-on-one opportunities. Here are the results:
On the first route, he was going against one of the better corners I've seen down here—Cliff Harris. Shaq ran a go route and Harris was with him most of the way. Shaq did have a step on him though, but the ball was a little overthrown. It did hit Shaq's hands, but it would've been a circus catch had he come down with it.
The second route was run against corner Marcus Davis. It was a corner route and Shaq had Davis beat but it was a late throw and incomplete.
The third route was against safety Byron Moore. It was an out route, Shaq was wide open, and the ball was overthrown.
The fourth route was Evans against Harris again on a go route again. Shaq got past Harris and was open, but the ball was under-thrown. Shaq fought Harris for the ball and still almost came away with the catch, but really did a nice job making sure Harris didn't come down with it.
On the fifth route Evans ran a post route against Marcus Davis again, he was wide open, but he dropped a perfectly thrown ball—one of the few on the day.
The only other opportunity we got to see Shaq play was in 7-on-7 in a two-minute drill. He caught one short pass and was tackled immediately, and appeared to pull up on a seam route where there was a lot of traffic coming his way. Had he not slowed down he probably could've caught the ball, but would've paid a dear price.
The West quarterbacks have struggled in the three practices I've witnessed, as has their offensive line. Unless some players step up their game, I don't expect a lot of fireworks out of the West on Saturday.
West Morning Practice Report
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