Practice Report: Second day pleases Cutcliffe

Coach David Cutcliffe approached the media after the second workout of the football season with a smile on his face. "I don't know what we've done to deserve this weather, but it's been great and is a natural spark for summer workouts," he said.

"There has been very little humidity, which has been nice for the first couple of days. We will want some heat soon, but it's good to start the first couple of days in weather like this."

Cutcliffe also smiled about the team's execution improvement from the first day to the second.

"The competition between the offense and the defense was spirited. Yesterday, I didn't think we threw the ball very well. Today, all the quarterbacks threw the ball extremely well. The only negative I could see was that we dropped some balls we will usually catch. We don't want that to become a trend," he noted. "Our conditioning is good, overall. We have a few kids who are in decent shape but need to get in playing shape, but the rest seem ready to go. Overall, I don't have too many complaints. When you get better as a practice progresses and finish a tough workout strong, that's a good sign."


* The Winning Edge delivered by Defensive Coordinator Chuck Driesbach was short, sweet and simple. "Listen and be accountable. You have no chance to be a great team if you don't do those two things. All the talent in the world will not overcome a lack of knowing what to do," he stated. "Great listeners are great learners. Great learners are great producers. Listen and you will produce."

* All eyes are on DT McKinley Boykin as he recovers from a knee scope a couple of weeks ago. Trainer Tim Mullins said McKinley is coming along at a good pace. "There are all kinds of scope procedures. McKinley had more than a straight meniscus tear. Essentially, in layman's terms, he had a more extensive scope procedure. It was like three procedures in one. Right now, he's day-to-day, literally, but he's making progress," Mullins noted. . . Boykin didn't do any team - 11-on-11 - work yesterday, but today he did a few reps in team situations.

* The Rebs devoted a long period of practice to the running game and run defense. From a running back perspective, Vashon Pearson looks better than he ever has - in peak shape and form. He seems a little faster than he was last year and is "turning loose" now that he knows the position and his duties within the position. . . RS Frosh Alan Abrams looks very crisp as well. He's extremely quick in his cuts and has enough speed, although not a "burner," after he gets in full stride. He's a glider with great vision. . . Brandon Jacobs has lost 10 pounds since spring and is now a svelte 225 pounds. He is visibly quicker on his starts at that weight. He is hitting the holes quicker than in the past and is running well. TB seems to be in good hands.

* We took the opportunity, once he got settled in a little, to watch Mico McSwain in pass drills. The good side is that he has naturally good and soft hands and he is a fluid athlete with excellent body control. The other side is that you can see the difference in his routes and techniques compared to those of the veterans. The crispness in his routes will be learned, but right now he is way behind in those departments, as he should be. Excellent potential. It's all a matter of the learning curve now.

* There has been very little cramping at this point of the young season, for two reasons. One, most of the players were here most of the summer working out in the heat and are in good shape. Two, the weather, as Cut mentioned, has been pretty good. But one of those who wasn't here this summer felt the wrath of a collegiate practice. CB Dustin Mouzon cramped a little today and had to sit out a period or two. The good part is that he came back with a vengeance once he got hydrated and got the cramps out of his legs. He finished the practice with a flare, breaking up a long bomb in the opportunity period for the newcomers at the end of practice.

* Want a little levity? I picked out an "All-Hair Team," with the help of some of the support personnel, today. DT Andrew Wicker - long, curly blond hair; DT Daniel Booth - long blond hair; S Danny Bell - dreadlocks; TB Dawan Woods - dreadlocks; LB Marquis McBeath - long braids; DE Chris Bowers - long blond hair; WR Frank Clayton - long braids; and OT Bobby Harris - a big 1970's afro. Drum roll please - the All-Hair Team for 2004!!!

* S Tavarus Horne is on the comeback trail from major knee surgery last winter. He practiced all day yesterday and felt pretty good, but as a precautionary measure he was taken out of practice today and the knee was iced down after individual drills. "I feel good, but the doctors and trainers want to take it slowly and see how I progress," Horne noted. He's expected to practice the full practice tomorrow and see what happens. He only had slight swelling in the knee after yesterday's workout - a good sign for his first day back.

* TE Lawrence Lilly got rave reviews from the strength staff this summer and it shows in the early workouts. He's cut most of his body fat and is a lean looking 265 pounds compared to a little overweight 275 last season. He said he was motivated by senior TE Eric Rice. "Eric came to me at the first of the summer and said 'I'm going to do everything I can do this summer to help you beat me out.' I was kind of surprised by that statement, but I knew what he was doing. He was trying to motivate me, and it worked. I thought if he had that much respect for my potential, I wasn't going to let him down," Lilly stated. So far, a more mentally and physcially mature Lilly looks to be a TE coming into his own.

* At DE, it's pretty set that Cory Robinson and Jayme Mitchell will be the starters, but there appears to be some battles ahead for the number two slots. Brandon Jenkins and Dedrick Clark are in a heated match to back up Mitchell and Corvelli Haynes and Viciente DeLoach are in a battle to back up Robinson. Right now, it appears the edge goes to Haynes and Jenkins, but the other two aren't giving in. And that's not even mentioning the two rookies - Cory Mills and Chris Bowers, who are impressive in their own right for this stage of their careers.

* There are no depth chart changes on the first team since spring other than the absence of LB Ken Bournes. There's no reason for there to be at this point. But for a refresher course, here are the ones: Offense: WR Bill Flowers, Kerry Johnson, Mike Espy; TE Eric Rice; FB Lorenzo Townsend/Rick Razzano; QB Micheal Spurlock; TB Vashon Pearson; LT Bobby Harris; LG Doug Buckles; C Chris Spencer; RG Marcus Johnson; RT Tre' Stallings. . . . On defense: LE Jayme Mitchell; DT Daniel Booth; DT McKinley Boykin/Andrew Wicker; RE Cory Robinson; LBs Rob Robertson and Brian Lester; CBs Trumaine McBride and Travis Johnson; SS Kelvin Robinson; WS Charles Clark; FS Eric Oliver.

* The number two offensive line, which has been the subject of a lot of concern since spring, shapes up like this, right now: LT Tony Sanders, LG James McCoy, C Tony Bonds, RG Ryan Jones, RT Marcus Cohen. It is extremely important that at least two players emerge from that group who the coaches feel completely comfortable with, similar to their feelings about Bobby Harris and Stacy Andrews a year ago. Who will that be? Big question that needs answers pretty quickly.

* The Rebs worked some kickoff return today at the end of practice. The early candidates for kickoff return duties are: B. Brown, Mike Espy, Frank Clayton, Taye Biddle, Larry Kendrick and Mico McSwain. All have plenty of speed.

* We asked Driesbach about his first impressions of JUCO Larry Kendrick. Here was his response. "He's hesitant right now, but when he gets something mentally, he's a flash, like he was on the JUCO film we saw of him," Coach 'D' noted. "He knew a little more today than he knew yesterday and it showed in his play. There is no question about his physical ability. The way we work our system, we will throw everything at him all at once and then back off a little to see what he has grasped and go from there. It was obvious he knew more today than he did yesterday because he made some plays in coverage that showed his JUCO form." . . Kendrick split time with WS Charles Clark today. He will also work some at FS behind Eric Oliver.

* Freshman Reterio Brown is a tall, well-proportioned athlete who has a look to him that says "I'm going to be good." That's what Driesbach is banking on - but where will he play? Driesbach has hopes Brown will evolve into a "big linebacker." "I'm starting him out at linebacker. He might grow into a DE or TE, but I'd prefer he stay at LB and just be a big, bad one there," he smiled. "He's got the movement and athleticism to be a big backer. That is our hope as he learns and develops. He needs some upper body work, but I think the world of Reterio and his potential. He's attentive and wants to learn and it's obvious he's an athlete."

* Driesbach also said he is "pleased with the newcomers as a group." "Terrell Jackson and Dustin Mouzon have the speed we are looking for in our corners," he continued. "Garry Pack is all we thought he'd be, even though he's a bit hesitant, like Kendrick, right now. Jamarca Sanford looks like he's got excellent movement and athleticism. The young DEs (Bowers and Mills) are what we were hoping for. Brandon Thomas has a shot at linebacker - a big kid with good movement. I'm very pleased to this point, but those are just first impression looks - they all have a long way to go to get on the field."

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