Competition Friday, II

Fridays during spring practice are a little lighter and little more reserved for quality reps for the backups. This Friday was no different.

Spring training is a time for everyone on the squad to get a fair chance to show what they can do and to give the coaches a decent amount of film for study on each player.

The way Coach Hugh Freeze runs his spring session is to reserve Friday practices for the third and fourth teams, primarily, since Saturdays are full scrimmages.

"It's all about seeing the development of all our players and getting good looks at them all. You never know when a gem is going to pop up somewhere and we need tape on all of them so we can evaluate what they need to do in the offseason to improve," Freeze explained his philosophy. "We usually concentrate more on the two-deep during Saturday scrimmages so this gives us an opportunity to see the development of the backups."

Freeze said Saturday's scrimmage - at 10:30 a.m. in the stadium and open to the public - will be more of the put-the-ball-down variety than last week's scrimmage, which was primarily a situational affair.

"If the offense gets 30 yards on a possession, they get a point. If the defense stops them before 30 yards, they get a point. If the offense scores, they get two points and if the defense gets a turnover, that's two points for them," he explained the format. "We will also do coming out and Red Zone, but all the periods will be competitive.

"We think this will be a physical practice where they will be getting after each other."

Bo Wallace
Thomas Graning

Freeze has some things in mind he'd like to see out of the team that perhaps were not as sharp as the first scrimmage a week ago.

"I'd like to see the O-Line adjust better to the blitzes we'll be seeing. At least get set correctly and fitted correctly," he assessed. "I'd like to see us stay on schedule a little better on offense and not have negative plays.

"On defense, I just want to see ball pursuit and see if they can create some turnovers. They also need to eliminate giving up the big play. They gave up too many last week."

Freeze has been pleased with the progress of QB Bo Wallace this spring, but to Freeze, that's not the most important thing in Wallace's pseudo-comeback.

"Spring is important and he has done well, but this does not compare to the benefits he got in January and February in the weight room and what he will get in May, June and July in the weight room. We have to get his arm right before the season.

"We are sending him for a week this summer to a specialist who specializes in baseball pitchers who have had shoulder issues and how they strengthen their arms. To us, that's going to be more important than these 15 spring practices, but he has done well so far and there is certainly a difference in him last season and him now in spring training."

Random Notes:

* Who is the backups QB? "It goes back and forth every day. I thought Ryan (Buchanan) had a better day today, but DeVante (Kincade) was better Wednesday," Freeze said. "That battle will go all the way to game week. I can see both getting a chance to play next year, depending on the situation."

* TB Jaylen Walton did not practice Friday. He tweaked his hamstring Wednesday and will miss Saturday's scrimmage. It is anticipated he will be back in action next week.

* WR Vincent Sanders remains sidelined with a hamstring problem that has plagued him all spring. He tried to come back after spring break, but re-injured himself. Freeze said he doubts Sanders will see any action this spring.

* There has been some intrigue, even excitement, about Channing Ward moving to TE, a need position, this spring, but the forgotten man has been senior Nick Parker, who is currently number two on the depth chart behind Evan Engram.

Laremy Tunsil
Petre Thomas

Parker is somewhat of a mix between Engram and Ward. The former fullback is doing a good job catching the ball and running correct routes and he has become more physical at the line of scrimmage.

* The center battle is being closely watched by everyone. Right now, it appears Ben Still is slightly ahead of Robert Conyers and is getting most of the reps with the first team.

* As everyone knows, sophomore Laremy Tunsil is a special player and he is getting better by the rep, but he's got his hands full in practice with one of the most intense battles of spring. Each day, he is pitted against DE C.J. Johnson and that's no easy task for anyone. Johnson has regained his form after coming off an injury last year and there's a lot of give-and-take going on in spring training between those two. If you do nothing else at practice, it's worth it just to watch that tug-of-war of two of the Rebel titans.

* It looks as if WR John Ratliff has the inside track on the all-important holder job for placements. Ratliff is calm and cool under fire and he has some of the best hands on the team. Buchanan, most likely, is penciled in as his backup and he also does a stellar job in that role.

* DT Lavon Hooks, who has missed some time this spring with an ankle injury, is back in action, as is MLB Temario Strong, who also missed a day or two with an ankle injury.

* With a standard punt, there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference in candidates Will Gleeson and Grant Warren. Their distances and hang times are comparable, but it appears Gleeson has an edge due to his ability to rugby punt and his ability to place the ball accurately where he wants to. He is really good at pinning a return man to the sideline, making it easier for the coverage team to converge. Right now, best guess, Gleeson will emerge as the punter for 2014 based on spring training this far. Warren, however, is a good one to have in their hip pocket. Pretty good punter himself.

* The scrimmage will begin tomorrow morning at 10:30 in the stadium.

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