It was a gorgeous day today for the start of Spring football practice. It was a little strange with all the new faces. There was no music blaring today, but very intense teaching going on.
Lots of attention to detail in regard to fundamentals regarding footwork, body position. Coach Hopson was very hands on as he aided coach Disch with the corners and teaching the new spur position. The spur is a hybrid safety/backer. The guys running at the spur were Picasso Nelson, Walden Davis, and Fr. Ernest Gunn. I was very impressed with the work of Dline coach Derrick Nicholson. He is intense and really broke down and corrected some poor footwork by our Dlinemen. He also is the only position coach I have ever seen show up to practice with his cleats on. he was running around and whooping it up.
In regard to some of the players that had been hurt, Paxton Scrimpshire was out running with the backers. He was in a no contact green jersey. Christopher Robinson was good to go at defensive tackle. Draper Riley was out with a green jersey on. Taylor Marini was also in the green jersey as he recovers from major shoulder surgery. Tez Parks was also in a green jersey as he recovers from MCL surgery. Dakota Siniard is still in a green jersey. Starting to wonder if his back injury will possibly end his career. George Payne was full go and wearing a brace on the surgically repaired knee. Jerry Mcorvey was also in the no contact green jersey as he continues to recover from a blown achilles tendon. Oliver bates was also out recovering from a knee injury.
In terms of positions, or new faces, Antoine was in his familiar safety spot. DeSavion Patrick was moved to the Wolf position. The Wolf position is a hybrid DE/OLB spot. Yancey and Thigpen were running 1 and 2 ahead of Patrick at the Wolf position. Reid Rials 6-1 200 FR. looked very good at the slot receiver position. It will take some doing to fill the shoes of Nick Mullen's safety blanket in Casey Martin. The starters at the tackles were Stutzman at LT and Pollard at RT. They were backed up by Fr. Blake Dorbeck at LT and Haydan Mcmahan at RT. Jacob Fleming also got some work at RT. Starting corners were Armstrong and Trae Collins. Ricky Parks was running #1 at TE and looked great. He looks to have slimmed down to around 240. The drop in weight has really added to his speed. Transfer Rusty Clark 6-6 260 looked legit at the TE position. He is a very physical blocker with good hands and surprising speed.
The new defense we will be running appears to use multiple fronts and blitzes from anywhere. The Dline now consists of a Bandit end, Tackles, and Wolf end. The Bandit will be Dylan Bradley. He was backed up by Jaboree Poole, J. Michael Edwards, Derrick Dixon. With the Wolf End, a hybrid OLB, the front switches between 3 and 4 men front at will. We will give the offense multiple looks throughout a drive. It's a defensive predicated on speed, and our staff will recruit to that. The defense requires players that are athletic enough to do different things. Jamie Collins was made for the hybrid Wolf position.
I really liked what I saw from newcomers Alanzea Staggers and Shannon Smith at WR. Staggers is a guy with some speed and shake similar to Mike Thomas's skill set. Shannon is a big body that appears to bring a little more speed out wide than DJ Thompson. Ito and FR. Patrick Brooks looked good at RB. They are both great receivers and will break your ankles with their ability to change directions. Nick Mullens was his usual accurate self. Kwadra Griggs brings a big arm, and athletic ability to run the zone read. Fr. Isaiah Spencer looks like he will help us at the inside LB position. Jayshawn Washington looked fine, but may have a hard time getting on the field with a deep TE group and transfer Rusty Clark looking good. Add to that Marini's return this Fall. I know it is early, but the Otackles have a long way to go. They must grow and improve this Spring.That position looks to be the biggest weakness of this team. Today the tackles could not block our defensive ends. It was a track meet to the QB. Antoine and Patrick Brooks got lots of work at punt returner today. They are both dangerous. The practice itself was lower key, but the players and coaches are getting to know each other. There was also tons of attention to detail and teaching. Lots of new stuff to learn on defense. The offense is almost exactly the same as before. Although coach Dawson likes to get the QB under center in short yardage. Much like Fedora did with Austin Davis.