Practice Notebook: 4/5

The Frogs held their last practice of spring camp Thursday afternoon in shorts and helmets and after fifteen practices, head coach Gary Patterson likes the improvement he saw from his team.

Patterson moved practices up this year and with the move his team benefited with extra time in the weight room to get stronger and to focus more on academics; two things that he thinks will benefit his players.

"The positive is we lengthened it within the full five weeks and we stayed healthier. We had some injuries but we really didn't have a long list. I think we got a lot more teaching and a lot more film watching done," he said. "I think it helped us more academically.

"I think we grew a team up. Obviously we had some new guys come in and we moved forward. We still have a long way to go to be what we want to be but we're not where we were."

While it's known that the coach doesn't get into specifics about individual players, when asked what player stood out to him this spring he wasted little time in naming one.

"Eric Tausch on the offensive line," Patterson said of the player that surprised him the most this spring. "I thought him being able to give us a tackle and a center is invaluable. We'll get everyone else back. Instead of having six players it's like having seven. We really have to grow up there."

Patterson also discussed some players that have stood out on defense.

"I think Elisha Olabode has come a long way and so has Hackett behind him. Those guys are like our generals. I'd probably say Jason Verrett had the best spring of all of them, moving him to field (corner) was a good move for us," Patterson said. "Outside of that I'd probably say of those three and Kevin White at the other corner. We played better at corner this spring than we did at the end of the fall I felt like."

Another topic discussed this afternoon was the leadership of junior quarterback Casey Pachall. Patterson said while most look at the leadership from the quarterback others have stepped up to take on the role as a team leader. It's those other players who he says makes a difference in becoming a champion.

"Younger quarterbacks ask and older players demand and he's somewhere in between that," Patterson said of Pachall. "We still some really good leadership, Blaize Foltz, Josh Boyce, guys like that. We need to keep demanding and moving forward and if that happens you've got a good chance. The way teams win championships is how you handle adversity. Anyone can do it when it's good. How do you handle when a certain player goes down or you don't get a call or they score on a big play. That's what we're working on right now. We put the defense and offense in hard situations to see how they react to it."

Four players from the 2012 class enrolled early and benefitted from the extra time they received on campus by enrolling in January instead of June. Patterson discussed the progress of B.J. Catalon, Tyler Matthews, Kolby Listenbee and Keivon Gamble.

"I think they did okay. I think the last two or three practices B.J. Catalon and Tyler probably came the farthest," Patterson said of the early enrollees. "Kolby Listenbee has got great speed and Keivon really started to come along as one of our corners and if he can be our fifth corner and push to be our fourth corner then we'll be a better football team in the fall. It was great having them in the spring. They would've missed out on about thirty practices trying to learn it. They're way ahead of the freshman coming in."

Patterson has mentioned in previous practice reports that defensive end is a position where he sees at least two of the four incoming freshmen battling for playing time in 2012. When asked if he sees any other positions an incoming freshman could make an impact, Patterson says the message to all of the newcomers is the same.

"We tell all of them to come in like they have a chance to start," Patterson said. "Every year we think some are and it's usually somebody else so we'll have to find out. Hopefully it's at the positions we need them."

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ADDITIONAL PATTERSON QUOTES:

ON THE TIGHT ENDS…
"Our younger players still got to come a long way, I think all four of them need to keep working on being physical and learning to be a football player," Patterson said of his tight ends. "Our tight ends play on all of our special teams and they're very important in our run game."

ON THE LINEBACKERS…
"All three of those other guys have got a long way for us to be what we want to be," Patterson said. "It doesn't mean we can't play well and be what we need to be on defense. If Tank makes it we've had six linebackers the last four or five years go to the NFL so how do develop the next guy. That's what our job is. Hopefully A.J. Hilliard can come in and help us in that department. I'm excited about all of it."

ON THE TORNADOS THAT AFFECTED ARLINGTON AND DALLAS…
"We've checked with everybody and all of our recruits and right now none of our guys have. But we've been thinking about all of them," he said of the residents in Dallas and Arlington. "We have players from there so our hearts go out to them."

NOTABLE:
- 2014 offensive lineman Demetrius Knox was at Thursday's practice. Knox already has an offer from Texas A&M. Knox's teammates, 2013 linebacker Xavier Phillips and 2014 runningback Daniel Gresham were also in attendance.

- SA Reagan offensive lineman Matt Beyer was in attendance.


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