Spring Ball: Day Six

We hope you didn't become too accustomed to full-pads practices. NCAA rules do not allow that to continue through the remainder of spring practices. Friday was a day of lighter contact, with the players back into shorts following Thursday's heavy hitting and preceding Saturday's full scrimmage. The good news is that Day Six showed us the hurry-up offense and some red zone work for the first time this spring.

The afternoon started on a positive note, with the return of senior wide receiver Evan Moore as well as senior inside linebacker Michael Okwo.  Those two players both missed Thursday, Okwo with an injury and Moore with an illness, but both returned 24 hours later.  That pair might be the team's biggest playmakers, and it does the heart good to see them active on the field.  In less pleasing injury news, redshirt sophomore defensive end Gustav Rydstedt is out of action with another new injury - his second of the spring after already starting this month with a weak knee coming off off-season surgery.  The Swede just cannot catch a break.  It is still early in his career, but he has been beset by well more than his share of injuries.  One can only hope that he is not the next version of Timi Wusu or Brian Head, a pair of graduated seniors who never had the chance during their five-year careers to display their full talents due to a terrible string of injuries.  Big redshirt freshman Matt Kopa has moved into Rydstedt's spot as the first-team left defensive end.  Also out of action Friday was redshirt sophomore wide receiver Nate Wilcox-Fogel, who broke his collar bone on Thursday and is done for the spring.

A few notes on the offensive line: They are improving each day.  I am seeing better consistency in their pass protection as well as their run blocking this week, as compared to the first week of spring practices...  No change in the "starting" five first-team players, now through six practices.  Still the same quintet that manned the first unit in the first practice...  Knock on wood, but all linemen on the roster are currently healthy.  That still only affords 14 bodies to fill three-deep at five spots.  One man short of the 15 you would like to have, one compensation I have noticed is that fifth-year senior center Tim Mattran stays on the field during some sessions when the other four first-team linemen head to the sideline and are replaced by the second string.  With Mattran and redshirt junior Preston Clover as the only two dedicated centers, they are taking most of the repetitions in the middle through all three offensive line units.  Those we see Clover take snaps with the second- and third-team offensive lines.  Occasionally, redshirt junior Mikal Brewer will take a couple snaps as the third and emergency center...  Now back for the last three practices, fifth-year senior Ismail Simpson is firmly planted at left guard.  That is contrary to the spring media guide depth chart, which lists him at right guard...  Redshirt sophomore Bobby Dockter is running third string behind Simpson at left guard, though he also plays some snaps at right guard when Brewer moves over to center.

The wide receivers overall had a very difficult Friday.  They dropped passes during early receiving drills, and they had a grotesque number of drops during the seven-on-seven repetitions.  Several of the latter drops came as receivers looked back for the ball with the low late-afternoon sun in their eyes, which may be a legitimate excuse.  Evan Moore might be cut a little slack as well, as he rallied Friday just 24 hours after enduring a virus-induced epic vomit-fest.  All that said, it was a decidedly down day for the wideouts.

The play of the day was one of the best so far this spring - redshirt freshman outside linebacker Clinton Snyder made a read from the middle of the field on a comeback pass pattern, and in a lightning quick motion made a break on the ball.  The speed with which he arrived to the ball was already exceptional, but Snyder also caught the ball with his hands while running at a sharp angle against the trajectory of the pass.  The first-year defensive dynamo took the ball to the house, with great celebration from his teammates and remarks of acclaim from all in attendance.

While Friday could not offer any live full-tackle scrimmage competition, we did see Stanford run its hurry-up offense for the first time this spring.  The first and second units of offense and defense matched up, with a good length of the field to cover and just 1:20 of clock with which to work.  Both offenses moved the ball into field goal range without danger of running out of clock.  And as we expected, both Trent Edwards and T.C. Ostrander operated out of the shotgun every snap.  They both looked in control of the hurry-up drill...

1st team offense vs. 1st team defense

1st & 10 @ own 34:  Trent Edwards pass complete to Mark Bradford for 20 yards
1st & 10 @ opp. 46:  Edwards pass complete to Patrick Danahy for three yards
2nd & 7 @ 43:  Edwards throws ball away out of bounds (clock stops)
3rd & 7 @ 43:  Edwards pass complete to Evan Moore on the sideline for 12 yards (clock stops)
1st & 10 @ 31:  Edwards pass complete to Moore across the middle for nine yards (poor spot, should have easily been first down)
2nd & 1 @ 22:  Edwards spikes the ball (clock stops)
3rd & 1 @ 22:  End of drill

2nd team offense vs. 2nd team defense

1st & 10 @ own 42:  T.C. Ostrander pass complete to Kelton Lynn for 17 yards
1st & 10 @ opp. 41:  Ostrander pass complete to James Dray for six yards
2nd & 4 @ 35:  Ostrander pass complete to Dray on the sideline for seven yards (clock stops)
1st & 10 @ 28:  Ostrander pass incomplete to Lynn at the 10-yardline (alligator arms)
2nd & 10 @ 28:  Ostrander pass complete to Lynn for 16 yards
1st & 10 @ 12:  End of drill

Normal 11-on-11 team work followed, though with shorts and no tackling it was limited in its ability to show what most plays could or could not do

  • Run by Anthony Kimble for four yards
  • Trent Edwards pass incomplete, intended deep for Evan Moore (overthrown), coverage by Tim Sims
  • Run by Ray Jones for three yards
  • T.C. Ostrander play-action pass complete to Marcus McCutcheon on the right sideline for nine yards
  • Run by Jason Evans for three yards
  • Garrett Moore pass incomplete, intended for Jason Evans (bobbled and dropped)
  • Run by Kimble for 11 yards
  • Ostrander pass complete to Mark Bradford on the left side, great double-move to beat Thaddeus Chase and Kris Evans on the sideline for 12-plus yards
  • Ostrander pass complete to McCutcheon for nine yards
  • Run by Kimble for five yards
  • Edwards pass complete to Moore at the sideline for 16 yards
  • Run by Nick Frank for three yards
  • Ostrander pass to Mike Miller at the sideline for eight yards
  • Run by Evans for one yard
  • Run by Evans for two yards
  • Edwards pass complete to James Dray for 28 yards down the middle, hit in stride - just beautiful
  • Run by Xxavier Carter for loss of one yard, "tackle" by Landon Johnson
  • Run by Jones for three yards on a cutback
  • Ostrander pass incomplete, intended for Charlie Hazlehurst 35 yards downfield (hit in hands, dropped), Nick Sanchez coverage

The practice finished with red zone drills, starting the offense at the 20-yard line.  The red zone offense (and defense) had very little work prior to Friday, so this was a valuable exercise.  The downs and distances, however, were programmed.  Thus, there was no true measure of whether the offense was able to execute moving the ball into the endzone.  That being said (while also recognizing the caveat of this not being a full-tackle drill), the goalline running game looked impressive.  Ray Jones and Anthony Kimble both followed their blockers, who paved the way and moved bodies.

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