8/26 (Monday) Practice Notes

The offense is mostly steady with their personnel right now, but we are seeing some movement on defense. Not only are some faces returning to action in good health, but there is still some action in the very deep linebacking corps. Also read on for the latest with punting, throwing and more.

  • The most immediate news from Monday's practices jumped out at me early in the morning.  For the second time in just a few days, we again have some movement in the linebacking corps.  We had just seen Jared Newberry leap to the first-string spot at his outside spot, and now we see Jake Covault move to the top of the inside spot.  As I reported last week, Tom Williams thinks more highly of Covault than Booties might, given the dearth of attention he receives relative to the other top five LBs on this roster.  One additional note is that the timing of this move is likely tied to Saturday's scrimmage.  The staff spent a good deal of time after that scrimmage breaking down film and firming up evaluations.  I would believe that the new evaluation rated Covault at the top of his position.
  • The next scrimmage on Thursday could be even more impactful for this team's depth chart.  The entire staff will be watching it very closely...
  • Following up on Sunday's encouraging returns, both Louis Hobson and Michael Lovelady are back in action.  Hobson got a lot of reps both Monday morning and afternoon at weakside DE and showed me good mobility and speed, though it will take another few days before we can evaluate where he will fit in at that position depth.  Lovelady had less work, but he was seen jumping up and down with frenetic energy between and after plays.  You can clearly see he is badly itching to get back to knocking heads.
  • Speaking of DE, Julian Jenkins continues to get a lot of work.  Not only is he still the weakside rusher for the #1 nickel package (with Amon Gordon on the strong side), but he is getting some occasional work in the base package.  Julian is really coming on right now, though the competition will double with the return of both Hobson and Lovelady.
  • Babatunde "O.J." Oshinowo is continuing with a string of strong practices.  One of the best pushes up the middle of the day came with O.J. crashing through to stand up Casey Moore three yards deep in the backfield.  Watching someone with the size and force to actually stand up the senior fullback is something to behold, by the way.
  • Some fun solo one-on-one work between the OL and DL showed Julian Jenkins blow by Edmond O'Neal, Josiah Vinson impressively hold his own, Amon Gordon put a move on Kwame Harris and shoot past him, and Brian Head hold off Matt Leonard.
  • I hate to be a broken record, but Monday was another strong indicator of why Kyle Matter is ahead of Ryan Eklund at quarterback.  Kyle still doesn't make his decisions as quickly as Chris Lewis, but he gets it off more often to make plays than Ryan.  And Ryan had a rough morning with some bad interceptions.  Though I will overall note that the quarterback play across the board was down on Monday.
  • The receiving heros on Monday were also sparse.  The most memorable flash came when Nick Sebes showcased his speed down the right sideline, and you could see him pull away from a very fast Stanley Wilson.  That separation and speed is a sure touchdown, unless you fail to lead Nick as Kyle Matter did.  Completed a long pass for a big play, but Chris Lewis has the arm and confidence to go for the jugular on that play.  Luke Powell also showed a little more of his dime-turning quickness, cutting after the catch.  Also notable that Justin McCullum fully ran the receiving drills in the morning, his first such work this training camp.  And he flashed some skilled hands in one catch that was thrown behind him.
  • JR Lemon showed some strong running in the morning, when the team was in full pads.  Once again he also showed himself to be a fine pass catcher, as did Casey Moore.
  • The tight ends continue to absolutely amaze me - all three of them.  Brett Pierce again showed his 'black hole' catching abilities, providing a perfect target and failsafe hands.  He also gets open whenever he wants, even against quick LBs like Jared Newberry.  The only reasonable defense of Brett I saw all day came on a triple-team with safety help.  Stanford will do good things if Pierce has to draw that kind of crowd this fall.  Alex Smith and Matt Traverso had less balls thrown their way, but both looked very good to me.  Mike Sanford has to be impacted by what he is seeing from this unit...
  • A lot of good coverage from the DBs in 7-on-7 Monday.  While I was down on the QBs for holding the ball or hesitating on throws, a lot of credit has to go to the secondary for what would have been coverage sacks.  Best break-up of the day came from Leigh Torrence, with tight coverage on a deep pattern, with a last second swipe up at the ball right as it was about to hit the receiver's hands.  Also saw a nice INT in the morning for OJ Atogwe.
  • Both the morning and afternoon presented a lot of special teams work - kicking and punting.  Stanford did get some long snapping from Drew Caylor, and the improvement from the last several days was striking.  First few snaps were low, but they improved, and so did the punting.  Eric Johnson boomed several in a row with surprising hangtime and distance.  His A-bomb was a 60-yard shot that had fantastic time.  I do look flaky oscillating back and forth on this punting game, but Monday was the most encouraging I have seen in months, if not the last couple of years.  Jay Goff is starting to punt again, but does not look like he is swinging at 100%.  Mostly solid kicks at or beyond 40 yards, with a spiral ball that almost never turns over.  My focus is increasingly turning to the snapping game as the key determinant of Stanford's punting fortunes this fall...
  • The Tuesday morning practice is just a short walk-through, so only the afternoon will rate for a practice report...

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