8/27 (Tuesday) Practice Notes

While most of the outward excitement about BuddyBall has been about the new offense, the first half of the fall training camp has revealed the excellence of the new defense. But a funny thing happened Tuesday afternoon, as the offense finally broke out.

  • Tuesday was without question a day in Stanford's 2002 football training camp that will forever be known as "The Offense Strikes Back." The running game got it going early, with standout runs from JR Lemon and Casey Moore. Casey's run was particularly memorable by its execution. Kirk Chambers pulled over and flattened OJ Oshinowo, creating a pile of big bodies in the middle. Then Casey hurdled the pile and hit the ground running into the defensive backfield. Though the most impressive uptick for this offense came in the 7-on-7 passing drills in the redzone. From the 15 yardline, Chris Lewis and Kyle Matter connected with receiver after receiver in video game fashion. And the routes were almost all timing routes, with the ball thrown up just before a break, then dropping right to the target in the end zone. Matter to Combs in the back corner, dropping just over Branch and Atogwe... Lewis to Crochet on a quick break behind the defense.... Matter to Sebes coming across the back of the end zone... Matter to Pierce for an indefensible score. And on and on. I particularly note that Kyle Matter showed his top execution I have seen for him yet at Stanford in this work. For that ten or so minutes, he looked awfully good. Two notes as a backdrop: 1) This defense is not bad, and they were not blowing coverages per se. I've seen what this D can do, and I did not see a letdown. In practices, you can always see a good play as bad play on the other side of the ball, but I've seen enough this training camp to know that this was really good stuff from the offense. 2) The team originally was scheduled Tuesday morning for a full practice in pads, but given the onset of heat and the number of physical practices, Buddy Teevens reduced the morning workout to a walk-through. Several coaches noted after the afternoon's practice that the guys were looking fresh and sharp. This was no coincidence, and may have been one of Buddy's most astute moves in this training camp.
  • FYI, I don't think I am imagining what I saw. I talked with Buddy Teevens and David Kelly (individually) afterward. Both felt strongly that Tuesday was a special day for the offensive cohesion and clicking of this team. The excitement was palpable...
  • Without rehashing more of the passing excellence, here are some notes from the solo OL vs. DL battles that waged on the other side of the field in the trenches: Louis Hobson blazes past Mike Sullivan... David Beall impressively stands up huge Ian Shelswell... Brian Head turns Babatunde "O.J." Oshinowo outside... Casey Carroll beats Dustin Stimson straight up... Scott Giles and Edmond O'Neal battle close to a draw... Michael Lovelady pushes past Jon Cochran, but only after several seconds of fighting (good job by JC)... Tom Kolich puts down Trey Freeman... Matt Leonard just muscles Jeff Edwards straight back into the bag... Kwame Harris stuffs Julian Jenkins... Greg Schindler stands up Casey Carroll... Matt McClernan shows really great technique keeping his hands inside the shoulders of Chris Gaines, keeping him at bay... Will Svitek pushes past Kirk Chambers after a brief battle... Mike Sullivan forces Drew Caylor outside... Casey Carroll shoots past Dustin Stimson... but then they immediately rematch, and Dustin puts Casey on the ground... Jeff Edwards stands up Scott Scharff. Fun stuff to watch. And note that none of these individual matchups can tell you the worth or ability of a player, but you add up enough of them and they help to paint a picture.
  • This is a gambling defense, particularly in the front seven, but I personally still get nervous when the pass coverage gambles a little too much. Saw Jared Newberry gamble on a ball thrown to Alex Smith, and later TJ Rushing gamble on a ball to Grant Mason. Both gambles failed, and the receiver had a straight shot at six.
  • I got a good hard look at the punting game earlier in practice, including a full rush from the defense. For the record, the snaps were pretty fair to good from Drew Caylor and Scott Giles, which I have not been able to say this camp. The resulting punts reflected the better snapping, though each punter started off with one weak boot. Eric Johnson hit three straight balls for 29, 50 and 45 yards. The last two had great hangtime. Then Jay Goff hit for 30, 47 and 45 yards - similar pattern. Eric got two more punts off before the end of the drill, for 40 and 35 yards. If the snapping is consistent, and that is a big IF, this punting just might work out this year...

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