As you walk into the start of practice, the offensive line and Coach Anderson are installing assignments and blocking schemes. The times I've walked by, they use the second unit and the young guys to walk through most of the new installation. That tells me the first unit is already comfortable with a lot of what they will be doing early in the season.
That is echoed by Coach Anderson who after practice really praised the entire offensive line unit, but gave special praise to the veterans who are absorbing the new system with relative ease.
I'll be honest, I can't figure out if the coaching staff is blowing smoke to the public or if they are extremely high on everything they've seen so far because every coach has been incredibly positive so far. When it comes to Coach Anderson, I believe him in his praise. THis collection of offensive linemen is clearly the most talented and physically mature group of OL's this program has ever seen.
Here's a few other random notes:
1) Sean Porter continues to heal from a slight pull. Jonathan Stewart moved out to his spot and Shaun Ward played the middle of the defense. I'll be the first to say that I was a big critic of Ward until now, but he has trimmed down some weight and he looks pretty good out there. He looks like an SEC LB now. He's still a few pounds over his ideal playing weight and his lateral movement isn't the quickest, but he runs well downhill.
2) The team briefly scrimmaged 11-on-11 at the beginning of practice. Not a lot of surprises with the first offensive unit. Nwachukwu and Evans manned the outside while Ryan Swope and Thomas Johnson took snaps with the first unit. Johnson took over for an ailing Kenric McNeal and caught a short pass. Although Dustin Harris isn't the most physical presence at CB, he was playing pressure man on Mike Evans who did a great job of knocking down his arms and hands, and gaining separation on a fly route down the sideline.
3) The more I watch the linebackers, the more I like this group as a whole. There's just so much athleticism from top-to-bottom. As I said on another thread, even walk-ons like Justin Bass and Mike Osadeby are physically built. I liked Jordan Richmond the first time I saw him, but the second time on Monday was the charm. He's a lot bigger and thicker than I thought. His lower body down to his legs and ankles are thick. He already looks like a junior in terms of physical maturity. He along with Ward will provide quality depth in the middle, assuming the size translates to live performance...and that appeared to be the case in the limited 11-on-11 live drills we saw on Monday.
4) The staff made some moves at DT as we expected. Freshmen Polo Manukainiu and Alonzo Williams worked out at DT on Monday. Walk-on OL Caden Smith also moved over, and even Spencer Nealy participated in a few interior DL drills before going back to his traditional DE spot for the live 11-on-11's. I think they simply want to cross-train Spencer in case of emergency. BTW, Kirby Ennis is incredibly compact and thick in all areas from his legs, thighs, and rear end to his arms and biceps. He's a rock while keeping his athleticism out there. I think he's going to have a big year.
5) The other unit shining right now is the secondary. The unit didn't give up any big pass plays in the live drills. What I like most about this group is the depth and versatility. Corners like Floyd Raven and Deshazor Everett are huge for the position and will likely be good in run support. So I can see A&M going big in the secondary to assist in run-support against the big, physical teams with Raven/Everett at corner, and Steven Campbell and run support specialist Howard Matthews at safety. If the defense faces a more potent pass offense and needs more speed than size in the secondary, Coach Snyder can shift Everett to safety and bring in Devante Harris or Dustin Harris as cover corners.
6) With Brandon Williams out nursing a minor injury and Christine Michael still being brought on a little slowly in live action for precautionary reasons, that gave Trey Williams to get a lot of reps in the 11-on-11 drill and he had a couple of nice 5-10 yard runs. He is elusive to say the least. He'll be ready to contribute in Shreveport.
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