Gridiron notes: No holding back

Miles excited that "padded practices" have begun, and his team is showing its agression.

It was easy to see the hitting had begun. Not only was there the sound of contact, but the training staff was doing more than checking on water. Several players went down, including some key players which we'll go into more detail on in the Injury Report. The squad had a lengthy inside drill with plenty of team work including working on goal line and short yardage situations as well as the offense coming off the goal line. After the two hour and 40 minute practice head coach Les Miles was in a very good mood.

"Boy that was a lot of fun, a little more smacking and activity," said a smiling Miles after the practice. "It was a good first day. Guys get banged up and bruised like they are supposed to, but that's football." Miles aid he felt that none of the injuries today was of a serious nature. Miles also reinterated that the team will hit in practice, and that hitting is the Cowboy way of playing football.

Give the defense the win on the first inside drill as there were only four plays where the offense gained five-yards or more. Defensive tackle Mike Williams subbing on the first team for the injured Kyle Hix set the tone on the first play as he nailed tailback Tatum Bell for just a two-yard gain. It was one of five tackles that the Denver senior was in on during the inside drill.
"Most definitely, a good man went down in Kyle Hix and I just tried to fill that spot for the team," said Williams. "We have the best coaches around and they push me to push myself."

Williams wasn't alone as strong safety Fath' Carter came flying up on the second play to nail Bell after a one-yard gain. One of the most impressive stops in the drill was turned in by celebrated freshman defensive tackle Xavier Lawson-Kennedy as he came off a block and greeted Sahw in the backfield for a five-yard loss. Freshman linebacker Victor DeGrate benefitted from the work of XLK and Efe Mowarin for a stop for a two-yard loss as he wrapped up Shaw. Veteran defensive tackle Clay Coe was impressive as he tied up fullback Tim Burrough for a one-yard loss. Linebacker Lawrence Pinson was also in on a numer of plays. The defense even got a turnover when backup quarterback Jamie Beeghley fumbled and Mowarin recovered.

Shaw did break two runs into the secondary and Bell had runs of six and five-yards. The blocking of left guard Chris Akin, right guard Corey Curtis, and right tackle Kellen Davis played into the more successful runs. Davis was playing some first team right tackle, causing Sam Mayes to move into right guard, by the end of practice. Still, it was the defense that stood out and Williams said that was part of the prepractice plan.

"Swarming, that's all I've got to say is swarming," said Williams of the defensive effort. "In the meeting today the coaches said we've got to have some people swarming. We've got to show the young players how our tempo of practice goes."

Clay Coe and linebacker Pagitte McGee carried the defensive theme over from the inside drill to team work as they stopped Tatum Bell for a three-yard gain on the first play of the first team period. Bell came back for a seven-yard run and Josh Fields fired out an eight-yard out route to D'Juan Woods, but the top highlight involved the defense as strong safety Vernon Grant broke in front of Jamie Beeghley's pass intended for Errick McCown. Grant returned the bal for what would have been a touchdown.

The next team period the offense led it off with a long one as Fields lauched a fade down the right to Rashaun Woods. Woods made a nice adjustment shielding cornerback Darrent Williams from the ball. It looked as though Woods would score, but Williams just got enough foot on him and tripped him. Fields later hit Woods down the middle of the field for a 30-yard gain. The other top plays were screen passes from Fields to fullback Tim Burrough, who managed gains of 12 and 6-yards.Linebacker Lawrence Pinson had four tackles and free safety Thomas Wright came up to make two stops during the 16-play sequence.

The first snap on the first extra point try was high, but after that deep snappers Jacob Dressen and Bryan Machado were perfect on the next seven snaps. Kicker Luke Phillips hit four-of-four on kicks with an extra point and field goals of 36, 42, and 47-yards. Backup kicker Brent Baisden was successful on an extra point and field goal tries of 36 and 42-yards.
The team did not work on punting this afternoon, but instead on kickoff returns as DarrenT Williams took one all the way teamed deep with Daniel McLemore. The other return pairings had Tommy Devereaux with Andrew Alexander and Robert Jones with Vernand Morency.

First, linebacker Victor DeGrate was back in practice after missing much of the week because of a hamstring injury. DeGrate, who ran some second team is being counted on to play some this season by defensive coordinator Bill Clay. The 6-3, 235 pounder out of DeSoto, Texas did show up some as he nailed Seymore Shaw for a two-yard loss during the inside drill.
There were four newcomer that really showed up a bunch in the first practice with the varsity. On the offensive side it was the two receivers that have been mentioned so much, Tommy Devereaux and Chijuan Mack. The two freshmen got some reps with the second team offense, but really made their presence known during the seven on seven drill. ChIjuan Mack caught an over the shoulder grab beating two defenders for a 30-yard gain. Devereaux found an open space in the middle of the field against a zone defense. Josh Fields zipped him the ball and Devereaux turned upfield with his speed for 10-yards after the catch before a defender could stop him.

On the defensive side we don't count junior college transfer Robert Jones. Jones, who was here in the spring, made a number of plays throughout the practice including the Hit of the Day which is described later in this report. We do count Jones' fellow NEO transfer Efe Mowarin and true freshman standout Brad Girtman. Because of injury Mowarin got some reps with the second team defense and was impressive. The 6-3, 300 pounder made several plays and tied up blockers freeing teammates to make even more plays. Because of the injury to Khreem Smith, Brad Girtman even got reps in with the first team defense. The 6-5, 270 pounder from Houston Memorial made the most of them with a couple of assisted tackles and a pass deflected off the arm of Jamie Beeghley. Girtman got head coach Les Miles attention.

"Girtman stands out to me because his motor runs so hot," said Miles refering to Girtman's effort. "He is the kind of guy that you tell him what to do, he's going to go try and do it 100 miles an hour period, and genrally speaking, that the characteristic of a guy that plays early."

During one on one drills between the offensive and defensive linemen there was an excellent matchup between Xavier Lawson-Kennedy and New Orleans native offensive tackle Corey Hilliard. Both freshmen had some reps with the second team during inside drill and team work.

No surprise here that the play of the day involved All American wide receiver Rashaun Woods. Quarterback Josh Fields went back to pass and lofted a fade toward the right sideline. Cornerback Darrent Williams took no chances and before the ball even arrived draped his arms around Woods for what would have been a certain pass interference penalty. Woods never lost his concentration on the ball and was able to free his arms to reach up and catch the ball as Williams was driving him to the ground. Strong safety Fath' Carter was nearby coming over to help on the coverage and after Woods made the catch, Carter screamed, "what can you do?" That's a good question as Woods has seemed to miss less than a handful of passes thrown to him the first week of practice.

It came toward the end of practice and got everybody's attention. Quarterback Josh Fields tossed a screen pass into the left flat to tailback Tatum Bell. Bell caught the ball and started to turn upfield when cornerback Robert Jones flying like a missile nailed Bell in his tracks. Bell never got even a step forward and was knocked back several yards by the impact.

As you might imagine it was lengthy on the first day in full pads. To start withlinebacker Paul Duren (sore hamstring) and offensive tackle Doug Koenig (recovering from stomach flu) were in shorts. Transfer running back Larry Pinson spent all of his time conditioning on the stationary bike with an unknown injury. During practice defensive end Khreem Smith went down with a knee injury, but he seemed to be moving fine by the end of practice. The most serious injury may have been to defensive tackle Kyle Hix, who injured his shoulder and was hoeld out the rest of practice. At the very end of practice Sam Mayes went down and was carted to the locker room. It appeared that Mayes injury was more of a heat related/hydration situation.
There was some good news pertaining to redshirt freshman safety Charlie Ward, who went down with a knee injury earlier in the week. Ward, who missed most of last season after tearing an ACL against SMU, had an MRI performed today and it showed only a strain. He should be back in practice before the Nebraska game.

The Cowboys will be back at it at 8:26 a.m. on Lewis Field. The workout is slated to go for approximately two hours in full pads, and it is open to the public marking the first chance for fans to see the entire squad together and to see them hitting. Saturday afternoon's workout is closed to the public, but a rare workout on Sunday morning will be open to the public. Below is a schedule of the remaining practices during preseason camp.

Saturday, Aug. 9 Full Squad Practice 8:26am-10:34am (open)
Full Squad Practice 4:16pm-6:35pm (closed)
Sunday, Aug. 10 Full Squad Practice 10:40am-12:30pm (open)
Monday, Aug. 11 Full Squad Practice 8:26am-10:34am (open)
Full Squad Practice 4:16pm-6:35pm (closed)
Tuesday, Aug. 12 Full Squad Practice 4:20pm-7:00pm (closed)
Wednesday, Aug.13 Full Squad Practice 8:26am-10:34am (open)
Full Squad Practice 4:16pm-6:45pm (closed)
Thursday, Aug. 14 Full Squad Practice 4:20pm-7:00pm (closed)
Friday, Aug. 15 Full Squad Practice 8:26am-10:34am (open)
Full Squad Practice 4:16pm-6:35pm (closed)
Saturday, Aug. 16 Full Squad Mock Game 3:20pm-6:00pm (open)
Sunday, Aug. 17 Full Squad Practice 7:20pm-9:10pm (closed)

School starts on Monday, Aug. 18 and all practices are closed!

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