Other than a few notes from the 11-on-11 drills, the 20 minutes was filled with a lot of detailed special teams work.
FYI, if you've seen my photo gallery, you'll see that Ivan Robinson is working out on the side and still rehabbing from his torn Achilles Heel this offseason. He's bulked up quite a bit and looks much bigger than he has in recent years. He's been a tweener as a young player, but it was clear that if he was ever going to see significant action it would be in the interior. But, he'll need to get back on the practice field with the team first. It looks like he's making progress.
OK, let's go over the first and second team units in the 11-on-11's:
1st Team Offense
WR Evans, Gonzalez/Tabuyo, Kennedy, Walker
OL Matthews, Harrison, Matthews, Ifedi, Ogbuehi
1st Team Defense
DL(4-man front) Obioha, Ennis, Williams, Stansbury
DL(3-man front) Obioha, Williams, Stansbury
LB(4-2-5 set) Jenkins, Baggs
LB(3-3-5 set) Jenkins, Baggs/Sanders, Askew
DB(either set) Harris, Everett, Hurd, Raven, Matthews
2nd Team Offense
WR LaRue, Gonzalez, Seals-Jones, Pope
OL Stuckey, Gramling, Compton, Klinke, Cheek
2nd Team Defense
DL Taylor, Golden, Manning, Taylor
LB Bass, Sanders
DB Jacobs, Sezer, Ellis, Moeller, Hunnicutt
As I tried to show on the depth chart, the first team defense started with a 4-2-5 scheme. On 3rd and 4th down in a passing situation, Coach Snyder brought out Kirby Ennis and moved Alonzo Williams to the nose with Gavin Stansbury and Julien Obioha as ends while bringing in Nate Askew in a 3-3-5.
In his first live action in 11-on-11, Obioha actually worked his way past Jake Matthews and registered a sack on Manziel. After short completions to Derel Walker and Mike Evans, the offense was faced with a fourth and a couple of yards. Johnny drops back to pass, calmly breaks containment and instead of running for the first down, he waits for the linebacker to commit to pursuit and then softly lobs a an easy completion in the middle of the field to Evans for a 19 yard gain and a first down.
This was a significant play that represents the transformation of Manziel's game. Last year, Manziel seemed to move frantically away from containment and then took off running immediately. Even the plays when he had time and didn't run, he seemed to be searching for an open receiver. Basically, he played on the edge and reacted to what was thrown at him and he used his athletic ability to extend plays and survive.
He's changed this season, and you saw it in that fourth down play. He seems more under control, even in his scrambling. I described his style in-and-out of the pocket as frantic last year. This year, I's say his style is smooth and controlled. There's no question he understands more what is going on out thee on the field. His scramble on that 4th down play had a purpose and a goal. He waited for the linebacker to either hang back in coverage or commit to pursue him, and when he vacated his coverage spot and came after him, Manziel was ready and calmly made an easy 19-yard toss to an open Mike Evans.
It's hard to describe, but Manziel plays more under control and he has slowed his game down...and it's obvious that the game has slowed down for him. Manziel was good enough to win the Heisman last year and it wasn't until late in the season where he really started to understand the Sumlin offense. Now, he's strengthened his arm and he has a complete command of the offense. I know Saban and other SEC coaches are scheming for Manziel, but what many national pundits don't understand is that Manziel is also changing who he is as a QB...and he's gotten better. Now that is scary.
Also of note on the first team, both Quiv Gonzalez and Jeremy Tabuyo got a couple of reps with the first unit.
Matt Joeckel got his shot with the 2nd team offense and the unit didn't have much success. Tra Carson had a 3-4 yard run, and after a short pass, Tommy Sanders batted down Joeckel's third down pass near the line of scrimmage and that ended the set and the 11-on-11 drill.
On defense, Isaiah Golden joined Justin Manning in the middle of the DL flanked by the Taylor brothers. The day prior, Hardreck Walker got the reps with Manning.
Taylor Bertolet, Brandon Williams, Kam Miles, and Joas Aguilar are still not practicing.
Websider Fall Practice Report No. 4
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