Met with cooler temperatures and donning shoulder pads for the first time the varsity's afternoon practice was a little more physical than the newcomers workout in the morning. That's understandable as the varsity is doing less learning and more repetition.
After stretching, the focus was on field goal and extra points. Since the practice was moved into Boone Pickens Stadium because of the wet practice fields it was a good opportunity to work on the regular goalpost. Redshirt freshman walk-on Luke Roberts was doing the kicking and looked good. All of his kicks got up well and had distance. He missed a couple of longer ones to the right, but that can be corrected. He finished with a 42-yarder that was dead, solid, perfect. Roberts has improved since the spring and remains the leader for that duty this fall.
From there the squad broke into individual drills with the best contact coming in a blitz pickup drill with the running backs and the linebackers. Lawrence Pinson, who is looking very good coming off the injury of last season, along with Paul Duren and Pagitte McGee traded blows with all the backs. Greg Jones and Shawn Willis were the best of the backs as the collisions were solid.
Then there was some work on run blocking with the middle of the offensive line working against inside techniques and linebackers on defense. Center Chris Akin was doing a great job of reach blocking and getting the linebackers. Akin is very solid at center.
From there it was on to inside drill, which again, featured more collisions than earlier in the week. Akin and the right side of guard Sam Mayes and tackle Kellen Davis were very effective and the best runs came off the right side, both inside and off tackle. Greg Jones and Greg Gold split reps and both had success. The defensive highlight came from defensive end Trumain Carroll, who came off a block and made a stop of Jones for a two or three-yard loss. Give some credit to the tight ends as well as Billy Bajema, Charlie Johnson, and Paschal Smith all chipped in with solid work on their blocking.
Back to individual drills and it is fun to watch defensive line coach Carey Bailey work on technique, especially hand work with the d-linemen. Bailey took plenty of time to really help some of the players improve. It is obvious that Xavier Lawson-Kennedy and Brad Girtman are imrpoving with extra attention.
Pass rush drill was fun to watch as many of the matchups were split 50/50. Each lineman on offense and defense go against each other twice. Some of the fun matchups included Chris Akin on XLK. Undersized defensive tackle Darnell Smith had some success getting back to the dummy quarterback on Corey Curtis. Redshirt freshman David Koenig had some success stopping Brad Girtman, and Corey Hilliard looked really good in a couple of reps against Carroll.
There was an extended team period that saw several highlights including a couple of nice runs by Greg Jones and Donovan Woods. One scarey moment came when Woods went out of bounds and ran into an equipment case, but he was fine. The equipment case was moved. The focus was on the run game with only a couple of passes after plenty of work on the throwing game on Tuesday night. Jamie Beeghley did complete a nice pass to Tommy Devereaux and the brothers Woods, Donovan to D'Jaun accounted for another solid passing connection. One of the few passes of the night found it's way, thanks to a quick break, in the hands of cornerback Darrent Williams. Williams has had an interception each practice so far. Linebacker Pagitte McGee, cornerback Robert Jones, defensive tackle Darnell Smith, and linebacker Lawrence Pinson all had impressive stops in the drill.
The split practices will go one more day with the newcomers working out at 9 a.m. and the varsity going at 4:10 on Thursday. Friday is the first full squad and full pads workout. All practices are closed to the public.
Practice Report 6-Varsity Says Let's Get Physical
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