At the end of what San Jose State Head Coach Dick Tomey described as a "very physical, short practice" on Wednesday morning, August 19th, he touched on a variety of topics regarding his team, including the status of the kicking game, freshmen standouts, and the battle between Jordan LaSecla and Kyle Reed for the starting quarterback spot.
When asked about his feelings regarding the Spartans' kicking game, Tomey expressed enthusiasm with kicker Philip Zavala, who is the team's returning number one punter, but will also have additional duties this season. "The thing that is the most exciting about the place kicking is that Philip Zavala has shown that he can be a terrific kick-off man, and he's a much improved punter. Right now Tyler (Cope) is our number one PAT/Field Goal guy and Phil Zavala is number two." Tomey went on to say "I think Philip can maybe be an upgrade kicking off because he's just so strong. And hopefully Tyler can be very consistent. And Philip might be a very long field goal guy. We might have Tyler up to 40-45 (yards), and Philip out from that. And maybe that would be a good combination."
When asked about any surprises in camp thus far, Tomey again cited the kicking of Zavala, and also pointed out quarterback Cory Murphy. "I'd say Cory Murphy, as a walk-on freshman quarterback, has done a bunch of good stuff". Asked if any decision had been made as to any true freshmen playing this season, Tomey said "No, except we've got three right now that are clearly ahead of the rest, that are running in the two-deep. That's Ronnie Yell and Chris Hill at corner, and Travis Johnson at defensive end." That means that the two-deep cornerbacks are being filled by two sophomores (Alex Germany and Peyton Thompson) in the number one spots, and two true freshmen, Yell and Hill, backing them up.
Touching on the quarterback battle between LaSecla and Reed, Tomey was asked if he preferred not having a clear cut favorite. "I just don't think it's a big deal" said Tomey. "If you've got guys that you believe in, give them both a chance to play, let them play it off, because you just don't scrimmage enough. If one of them is clearly, in practice, the best, then you go. But, right now, that's not the way it is. We don't know who it is right now. Now, we're not going to have that way all year. You can't win the job in practice. We don't scrimmage enough. Maybe if you're some place where they scrimmage a lot, you can. But we can't decide in practice, because there's not enough pressure. There's not enough competition. You just can't do that. So, we're going to wait probably until we start playing games; through the first few games, then we'll decide who our starter is."
Additional notes and observations from Thursday morning's practice:
Tomey indicated that the starting offensive tackles at this point are John Konye or Andy Vargas on the right, and Fred Koloto on the left, with David Quessenberry backing him up.
Highly touted JC transfer cornerback Brandon Driver, from Santa Rosa Junior College, is probably at least a month away from participating in full contact practice. Driver suffured a knee injury in his final game at Santa Rose last season.
Linebacker Justin Cole (in shorts) was held out of contact, but was wearing shoulder pads and helmet. He was seen enthusiastically jumping up and down while watching one-on-one linemen drills.
Also in shorts, helmet and shoulder pads were Lamon Muldrow (who seemed to be running well throughout practice), QB's Chad Bozzo and Myles Eden, WR Kevin Jurovich, LB Wade O'Neill, TE Avelino Valencia, OT John Konye, and DE Abasi Salimu.
Ina Liaina practiced with the offense, as a running back.
New tight end Chris Bryant was on hand, but not suited up. He was on the field with the other tight ends, observing the drills up close.
The team has not yet begun preparation specifically for the season opener against USC. Said Coach Tomey "Right now we're trying to prepare for the season. So we're not preparing for our first opponent. We're preparing for the season. And we're going to start preparing for our first opponent (USC) next Wednesday (August 26)."
Mike Morgan is a Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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