8/25 (Sunday) Practice Notes

Though this practice had no pads, it was much more than a walk-through. Lots of plays run, including focus on goalline, special teams and 2-minute drill - both offense and defense. Some good insights from watching that, but understandably less I can see and report on the OL and DL. Read on for Sunday's notes!

  • First off, the level of participation was encouraging, and by that, I mean the number of players who could go today.  Justin McCullum, whose medical progress continues to be called "miraculous" by the staff, was out there running routes in passing drills for the first time since spring ball.  Though they did not go in yesterday's scrimmage, Louis Hobson and Michael Lovelady gave the DL a boost with their participation today.  It will be very interesting to watch #90 and #91 in the next week, by the way, to see how they impact the rotations at DE.  A couple other guys with minor dings you might have missed yesterday were out there making big plays today as well.  Overall very encouraging.
  • Speaking of DEs, I noted again today that both Amon Gordon and Julian Jenkins are substituting in for the nickel defense.  Have to see how Hobson and Lovelady fit into the mix, but JJ's continued presence is very notable.
  • I did take a quick glance at some solo OL vs DL battles.  Still seeing our reserve tackles getting beat, but the one standout note was Babatunde "O.J." Oshinowo running crazy around and through his would-be blockers.
  • Best instinctive play from a DB I have seen all training camp came from TJ Rushing today.  Many of the great pass breakups I have reported have been about being in position and making a swipe at the ball at the last moment.  Good stuff, but not like today's play.  It was nothing technically superior at all, but instead just an incredibly quick reaction and break on the ball when it was thrown at his man.  Short route of maybe 10 yards, but TJ exploded and was in front of the receiver by the time the ball got there.  Like a flash of lightning, Rushing was there and tipped it up in the air.  He almost came down with the ball as well, which would have been a guaranteed six points with the speed he was moving toward that endzone.  Man oh man was that beautiful to see.
  • Stanley Wilson had a tough day in yesterday's scrimmage, but he was like a cold you just can't shake for Ryan Wells in 2-minute drill work today.  Stanley had three straight deflections in tight coverage on Ryan, which was so notable as to draw Buddy's praise when they huddled up to end practice.
  • Gerren Crochet had two great grabs at the sideline and in the endzone during passing drills.  The second one drew very direct and pronounced praise from David Kelly.  Gerren is coming on, and showing more and more consistency.  And consistency is the one thing Kelly and the offensive coaches are looking for in their players right now.
  • Another great grab from Greg Camarillo on a high fade that he pulled down in a battle with the DB.  Very nice pass from Chris Lewis and great snag from Greg.
  • Chris Lewis started the practice with a lot of nice throws, but I was concerned with some later.  It looked like his comfort level tightened up just a little bit.  He held on to the ball a split second too long on a couple patterns, including one that still went for a touchdown but drew shouts of "Sooner, sooner!" from Mike Sanford afterward.  Overall a mixed practice for Chris.
  • Kyle Matter continues to get the reps and make the throws that have him as the solid #2 QB.  Watched him during the throwing drills early in practice, in he is not far behind Chris with the passes inside 20 yards.  He also looked better than I thought in the 2-minute drill.
  • Chris and Kyle got most of the 2-minute work, though Ryan Eklund got a few of those reps to finish up.  I know a focus for Buddy and Sanford is to get in and out of the huddle faster for the nominal offense, which frankly was a weakness under Bill Diedrick.  So I watched how quickly they could set and run the no-huddle inside two minutes and was very pleasantly surprised.  Little to no confusion from the personnel, and even audibles went quickly and smoothly.
  • The goalline offense is another matter.  The defense mostly shut them down, though admittedly you could not see how well the running plays would have fared given the no pads.  But the passing plays were very tightly defended and predominately unsuccessful.  I can't describe formations for either the offense or defense, but will say that the mix of run and pass for the red-zone offense looks intelligent to me.  Not all that predictable either...
  • The special teams kick-off returns looked good today.  People are precise in their assignments, and creating the running lanes.  Ryan Wells still looks as dangerous as ever with the ball.
  • Snapping from Scott Giles is still awfully shaky.  We did get to see Drew Caylor return to long snapping today, which provides better though not great consistency.

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