8/23 (Thursday) Afternoon Practice Notes

Mark was back at practice Thursday, and was encouraged by the playmaking on both sides of the ball. A few characters continue injured on the sideline, where they were joined by a certain figure better known as the "Cooler Keeper."

   On a day that the first game of the 2001 college football season played, the Stanford Cardinal's sixth day of fall practice was not without its share of impressive moments.

   The coaching staff is beginning to recognize how important the tight end position is, as 3 of the top 4 tight ends saw a number of reps and plays in today's practice. As question marks linger about who will be the "go-to" guy as wide receiver, it is all the more imperative that somebody from this group of talented and heralded tight ends becomes a consistent and solid pass catcher (20-30 catches catches during the season).

   Darin Naajtes was not very active in practice, as it appears he's still gimpy. Brett Pierce looked very good, snagging a beautiful pass over the middle for a "touchdown", the exact same play he muffed two days earlier. He later took a bit hit from Amon Gordon later on, but managed not only to keep his feet but also hang on to the ball as well. Once the season starts and its Larry Triplett of Washington that's doing the hitting,  Pierce must show the same sort of toughness.

   Thursday afternoon's practice also saw the Cardinal work on, among other thing, much needed goal-line situations. These workouts were very entertaining to say the least, with the first team "D" and "O" duking it out. Colin Branch, best known for his punt block and touchdown against Cal last year, made an outstanding play. With Fasani rolling right, Branch stepped in from of the pass to make a diving interception. Later on J.R. got STUFFED trying to get in straight up the middle by 5 white-clad defenders. The offense would have their highlights too. Luke Powell made a nifty catch in the back of the end-zone, while Brian Allen looked impressively agile and shifty taking it in for a "score." Kerry Carter on the other hand was conspicuously absent from these drills.

And finally, Khaki-clad Ted Leland was at practice, looking a little uninterested as he stalked the practice field while yapping on his cell phone. Makes if he was negotiating some kind of shady deal: With coolers now inexplicably banned from Stanford Stadium, what's next? Backpacks? Sunglasses? The 2-minute offense?

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