A good session today with Mike Riley right in the middle of it and closely overseeing the proceedings. A QB late on a throw? A receiver running a slightly wrong route? Riley was all over it. This session had a strict and serious tone right from the get go and it carried all the way through.
You can listen to Riley's post-practice comments on on a variety of topics, including the availability of Wilder McAndrews, here:
11 vs. none, offense
The offensive coaches were closely monitoring things here as well, with eyes on every player and their assignments. The coaching staff called for stoppages after a play every now and then to correct any mistakes.
O-line, QB & RB vs. D-line, LBs and Safety
The o-line committed a false start on the first snap, and the coaches were not pleased. Things went better from there on, with some good runs being turned in by the backs. The o-line dominated the first half of this period, but momentum turned and carried the defense to gain the upper hand in the latter half. You could see the momentum shifting. As it often does, it turned on one good play by the D, and from that point forward, their defensive teammates were cheering, lively and vocal.
The defensive momentum carried on in skelly, most typified by some really fine pass defense. Lyle Moevao completed passes to Darrell Catchings and James Rodgers against tight coverage but failed to connect after that. Even though he couldn't connect with the receivers, he did throw them in a good spot -- where only the receivers could catch it. Justin Engstrom tossed a bomb to James Rodgers for a TD. Moevao then came back to hook up with Sammie Stroughter three times -- defenders had lots of trouble trying to stay with Stroughter on the routes. Engstrom completed a couple passes to Damola Adeniji and Taylor Kavanaugh. On the throw to Kavanaugh, he stayed with it snared it right before he went out of bounds.
O-line vs. D-line
Lots of popping and cheering going on. Andy Levitre has Slade Norris's number, managing to fend him off. Grant Johnson and Una Smiley also each turned in good outings. Victor Butler gave Timi Oshinowo a taste of strength and power. But the best hit of the drill and the day came from Carl Sommer, who sent Mike Remmers on his back to the ground with the hit. There was some loud cheering from the defense after that one. It was one heck of a pop.
11 vs. 11
The first team defense again displayed excellent pass coverage skills. Moevao couldn't complete a whole lot of passes against the secondary, but Riley still seemed pleased with the decision making and the place where he threw the ball, just like in the previous drill. Justin Engstrom got picked off by Brandon Hughes and he took it back to the house, thanks to some good blocking by Slade Norris on the return. Suaesi Tuimaunei forgot that it was not full contact and lowered his shoulder on Jacquizz Rodgers but pretty safe to say he knows it now. Riley was upset. The head man pulled Tuimaunei to the side and had some harsh words for him.
11 vs. 11
Engstrom threw another pick, his second of the day, this one by James Dockery, who promptly ran it back for a TD. Howard Croom threw a sick block on one play, enabling James Rodgers to gain some good extra yardage. Jacquizz Rodgers made a great run, making both a linebacker and safety miss. Touchdown Quizz.
11 vs. 11 (short yardage)
The defense smelled out some craftiness by the offense and Patrick Henderson and Dennis Christopher combined on a great stick, stopping the play in the backfield. But Ryan McCants hurdled through the line, virtually untouched until he was into the box thanks to some crunching blocks courtesy of the o-line. McCants had a handful of carries on the day, working on his blocking technique for much of the remainder of the drills. Engstrom missed a streaking John Reese on what a play that looked like it might have gone to paydirt. Engstrom smartly avoided the rush but his throw on the run was just ever so slightly off. Jacquizz Rodgers finished the scrimmage with another mesmerizing run for a TD -- indeed, the last run had OC Danny Langsdorf all smiles.
A warm bright sunny day kicked off a new week of practice and the punting and kicking went the way of the weather - it looked much better coming back from the break. Plenty of good boots and spiraling pigskins filled the air.
Play of the day
Carl Sommer's collision with Mike Remmers in the o-line vs. d-line drill. It sent Remmers back on to the ground. But to his credit and on the very next play, Remmers bounced right back, tossing aside Sommer's rush.
The morning session was about getting that edge back after a day off -- where close scrutiny by the coaches was the order of the day. As promised, Coach Riley was in the thick of it, and "refining" things over and over. The tone of the practice definitely tight and straight -- all business on Monday morning to start off the work week. Moevao made some good decisions on the field and he looks to have more heat on his passes than last year. Engstrom's two interceptions did not have the required amount of mustard on them, they floated on him before they were picked. But Engstrom does look to be getting better by the day, though. The defensive pass coverage was exceptional, continuing the trend from Saturday's scrimmage. Both McCants and Rodgers looked great on their carries.