- Once again, injuries are at the forefront of our collective Boot-consciousness. Here's the latest: Austin Lee and Kerry Carter are both out indefinitely. Austin has a damaged MCL and is walking with a notable limp. KC still has his arm in a sling. Ryan Fernandez was also out of pads and didn't practice that I saw. Mark Anderson, Jon Alston and Calvin Armstrong are both still out. One encouraging sign was seeing Jake Covault back in action. Matt Leonard was in pads, but not participating in any drills. He's dying to get back and play this Saturday, back in his old stomping grounds, but is doubtful. His back continues to act up, even off the field. Encouraging to see Marcus Hoover and Trey Freeman in pads, though neither took many snaps. Simba Hodari, it goes without saying, is out, though he arrived back to the Stanford area on Tuesday. His mother is in town helping to cook and care for "the Lion King." I couldn't find Ruben Carter anywhere, though I also didn't see him on the sidelines.
- Randy Fasani was throwing the ball around, but out of pads. He is meeting with doctors, and his status is day-to-day. Randy targeted this game to come back, but that looks very doubtful. I don't expect him to travel. If he comes back for Big Game next week, he'd aim to start, not return in a backup role.
- Before getting to who is playing where, it is important to note that Drew Caylor has made yet another position switch, this time back to DE. We have long thought that the O-line is our thinnest position unit on this team, but the D-line is the scariest right now, as evidenced by this move.
- With injuries all over the field, it is instructive to see who is getting the reps in their stead. On the offensive side of the ball, running back is really the one position up in the air. Clearly Brian Allen is the man, but the question of who will pick up the #2 spot is up in the air. Justin Faust has gotten more work in spot situations in games this season, and delivered a more, but both Justin and Kenny Tolon equally split the reps in Wednesday's practice. I think Booties should be excited about both, as both run hard and can break big games. Neither has the explosive lateral quickness of BA, which by the way continues to blow me away in practices, but both bring considerable speed and power to the position. I tried hard to find any advantage in reps, but can only conclude that we have to wait and see on Saturday.
- Speaking of running back, JR Lemon drew some oohs and aahs with a couple of his own runs, though he certainly runs behind the other guys in reps. JR is not 100% right now, though. Stand by for more on that as we get into November and December...
- One more note on JR: I've been corrected that his last name really is pronounced luh-mahn', with an emphasis on the last syllable. Not like the citrus fruit.
- For what it's worth, I think the receiving corps is relatively healthy. Ryan Wells ran pretty well, and Luke Powell is just working through general bruises and soreness.
- One other note on offense is that Zack Quaccia sat out the second half of practice. I'll assume this was precautionary, since I didn't find anything wrong with him. Tom Kolich unsurprisingly got work with the 1's at center, but what did surprise me was Paul Weinacht taking snaps with the 1's at center. He got a good push against the D when I watched him.
- On defense, the linebacking corps looks fine. Anthony Gabriel looks better than he has in weeks, in particular. It's the front and back four that is decimated. You might expect Marcus Hoover and Trey Freeman to at least give it a go on Saturday, but the majority of practice was run otherwise. Travis Pfeifer and Craig Albrecht continue to man the tackles, and Louis Hobson is filling Hoover's end. But rather than seeing Will Svitek as I expected in Austin's spot, I saw Drew Caylor. Will worked exclusively with the 2's, from what I saw. That is a statement of where Will is right now, given that a player switched from offense to defense just a day earlier is working ahead of him. Cooper Blackhurst got a bit of work, but looked clearly behind Drew. So I thought I'd pay attention to what Will did against the 1st team O, and saw him have some troubles. Specifically, I saw Brett Pierce drive him backward 3 or 4 yards on one play. I know how talented an athlete Will is, so this should also be taken as a statement to just how good Brett Pierce is in blocking right now.
- In the defensive backfield, Colin Branch looked pretty good in Simba's spot. Colin has continually made plays on special teams, far more than you can attribute to an average performer, so I expect a lot from CB. With Ruben Carter MIA, that left Garry Cobb and Leigh Torrence manning the corners.
- One other significant change: Chris Lewis was the holder on field goal attempts for Mike Biselli. Nice to see a swift reaction to the mishap in Seattle.
- Speaking of kicking, both Biselli and Mike Sgroi really nailed their kick-offs Wednesday. Sgroi still has the longer leg, though. Something to look forward to next season on kick-offs.
- I thought the passing game with Chris Lewis looked pretty good. Several very nice passes in just the right spot. One standout play had Teyo Johnson break free of two defenders, with CL finding him in the back corner. Nice to not have to see a jump ball - this one just dropped in there nicely.
- Tried to watch the scout teams closely to see who is stepping up. My votes are for Brian Head and Michael Craven. I looked hard at the D-line, but I just can't draw much watching them against this current 1st team O-line.
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