Just a perfect Saturday morning on the Farm for a football practice. It started at 9:30 or so and by the end (around noon), it was getting quite hot on the field. Great turnout on the rails – I estimated that as many as 200 Cardinalmaniacs™ took in at least part of the practice. Once again, the proceedings were spirited, with lots of encouragement and coaching by our great new staff. I spent most of the first half of the practice catching up with old friends on the rail, but paid closer attention to the scrimmage for the last 45 minutes or so. However, you could not help but notice Teyo during warm-ups leading the team in a "Whose house? C-house!" cheer.
Here are my observations:
- There were lots of player substitutions and rotations. All 3 QB's got extended play although Chris Lewis probably got the most snaps. I was impressed by improvement in Kyle Matter's arm strength. In a QB drill, all three QB's would drop back and simultaneously throw a 20-25 yard out pattern and all three balls seemed to arrive at their targets at about the same time.
- There were several potential recruits on-hand: Jorde Lipsey, an O-lineman from Florida, Jason Evans, a RB from Atlanta, GA and Mikal Brewer, another O-lineman (from AZ). Also, incoming freshman Matt Traverso (TE from Sacto) was in attendance.
- Colin Branch made at least two impact plays: on one, he stepped in front of a sideline pass and took if back to the house (with #10 in close pursuit). Later, #20 put a great stick on Grant Mason, causing #82 to cough up the pigskin. Leigh Torrence had a nice break-up that easily could have been a pick. Stanley Wilson had a solid stick on a receiver after a short down-and-out route. It is very apparent how much more aggressive our defensive backfield is playing in this coaching scheme. I have been waiting a long time to see this kind of attitude on game-day.
- The O-line seemed to get a pretty good push against the #1 defense but the D seemed to hold runs through the middle to minimal gains. Our RB's had to make sharp cuts to the outside to find any substantial running room.
- Teyo was making plays all over the field. Several undefendable grabs in goal-line situations and a "freak" play down the sideline when he hauled in a 30-yard pass and then hurdled two defenders before taking it into the endzone.
- Matt Leonard was getting consistent pressure on the QB's. Seemed like the O-line had to double-team him in many instances. Michael Lovelady was also providing some good pressure. Will Svitek forced an incompletion with a nice rush. So did Scott Scharff (#98).
- I did not see that many balls thrown to our TE's or running backs today. It is, however, a definite part of this Buddy-Ball offense. I did see Brett Pierce make a sweet one-handed catch in traffic early in the scrimmage.
- Jon Alston looked great today. I credited #37 with at least two sacks. Michael Craven was also getting a lot of pressure on the passers. And, he quickly filled the gap on running plays several times. #50 covers a lot of ground! Brian Gaffney caused an incompletion when he blitzed and was right in Kyle Matter's face. The LB's appeared to be blitzing often.
- I am very impressed by our receivers. We are deep and talented. And that's without #6 even playing in today's scrimmage. Grant Mason continued his strong play today. He had several grabs and just seems to find a way to get open on almost every play. Caleb Bowman held onto a tough ball (from #10) while sliding out of bounds. Justin McCullum looks very smooth out there although I did not see him catch a ball today. Greg Camarillo also had a nice catch in traffic.
- Kenneth Tolon had one outstanding inside rush that resulted in about a 20-yard gain. Justin Faust showed some speed running to his left, turning the corner on an inside hand-off play. Casey Moore also had some nice gains.
- I did not see a lot of kicking or punting today although Michael Sgroi's leg-strength was obvious on a couple of short FG attempts during the scrimmage.
- This was my second practice and there are definitely some new twists and wrinkles to our new offense. However, Booties will have to come out to practice and see for themselves, as we do not want to report on the details of this for now.