The return of nice warm weather wasn't the only positive on Monday as Coach Aliotti finally got his voice back. After being forced to bark out calls and directions to his players last week, Coach Aliotti was extremely loud and vocal today chastising his players when they got caught out of position. On one play Kwame Agyeman was on the wrong end of a Jeremiah Johnson stiff arm that left Agyeman in the dust. Aliotti was furious screaming "Kwame, you will not play if you don't make that tackle!". After a season that saw far too many missed tackles, proper form and technique has been a strong emphasis by Coach Aliotti, Gray, Pellum, and Neal this Spring.
A guy that does not get a lot of publicity but has been doing good things this Spring is Andre Crenshaw. He has a great side step move and is quick in open space. He isn't a power runner though and relies on his ability to make defenders miss to gain extra yards. Crenshaw had a solid practice although he did lay an errant pitch from Costa on the turf.
The guy who stood out the most on the day was Brian Paysinger. He continues to impress onlookers with his ability to get open and run great routes. He also exhibits great hands and the talent to make the spectacular grab. Paysinger is easily the most consistent of the receivers.
From last Friday's scrimmage and into today's practice, one can't help but notice the affect Brandon Bair's size has on opposing offensive players. During the scrimmage on Friday, he batted down a Brady Leaf pass with his long arms and was able to alter the throw of 6'6" Justin Roper today. Bair has really been impressive this Spring and just based on the mismatches his size creates, he should be a great tool for Coach Aliotti's defensive schemes as well as Coach Osbourne on special teams.
Terrell Ward had a great practice today as did Remene Alston. Ward had an interception as well as stuck Ryan Keeling in the dirt on a toss over the middle. His experience showed however when he whiffed on Alston after he put a good shake and bake to get past Ward and a few other defenders. Remene Alston is like a pinball going through tacklers as he uses his squat stature and low sense of gravity to his advantage against much larger tacklers.
Ryan DePalo was on the sidelines today in street clothes but was very active in helping coach up some of the younger corners and safeties on positioning and proper technique for particular situations. Many of the veterans are quick to offer advice to their younger counterparts for the better of the team. After a short discussion with Walter Thurmond III on the sideline, the next play Thurmond picked off a Brady Leaf pass. The secondary looks to be improving as the Spring goes on. Glasper is probably one of the most improved players in the secondary. He is slowly becoming a veteran and is a half a step quicker on every play. Look for a much more physical Willie Glasper out on the field this year.
None of the quarterbacks particularly stood out on the day. Dixon threw a few exceptional balls but also missed a few deep over the middle. Costa displayed his strong arm with a few great tosses to the sideline that were right on the money. He has a knack for putting the ball where only his receiver can catch it. Leaf looked solid for most of the day but really falls apart when a lot of pressure is in his face. Roper and Kempt made good throws but floated a couple that Coach Bellotti wasn't happy to see. Roper has a strong arm and can really sling it when given time.
Because he never seems to be out of position, John Bacon never gets very much attention. However, not rightfully so. He is a ballhawk in every sense of the word and is always a member of gang tackles. He wrecks havoc on special teams and has great size to boot. It is easy to see why the coaches feel he is the missing link for the linebacking core this coming season.
Spring Practice continues tomorrow at 4:15 with what is expected to be another hot day in Eugene.
The Annual Spring Game is scheduled to begin at 2pm on Saturday in Autzen Stadium with all canned food donations going towards Food for Lane County.