Practice Report: 8.20.15

Fall camp is almost over and Thursday evening Tyler focused on the running backs and offensive line, while the defense continues to impress.

After covering the passing game and the defense already this week, for Thursday night I wanted to focus on the running backs and offensive line. With the offensive line, the coaches were working on getting blockers to the second level and having the guys block without their hands to make sure they were getting squared up on defenders. The tight ends were also running through the blocking drills. The running backs were concentrating on ball security and maintaining balance while running through traffic.

In yesterday's report, Keff quoted coach Franchione, saying that the practice was lethargic and that he put that on the leaders and coaching staff. What really stood out this evening was the enthusiasm and energy throughout the coaching staff. The coaches were running from drill to drill, trying to fire up the players. Camp has been a grind at times, and seeing the extra energy and enthusiasm from the staff was worth noting.

During offensive line versus defensive line blocking drills, both Will Trevillion and Willie Williams looked more comfortable from the center position. Both are showing improvements at the position. Giuliano Cattaneo was running with the first team, Trevillion with the second, and Williams with the third.

When the team moved to 11 on 11, the coaches had the first team offense going against the second team defense, and vise versa. The offensive line for the first team was Brandon Sarabia, Hayden Lambert, Cattaneo, Ryan Melton, and Felix Romero. Early on in this stage of practice, the offensive coaching staff (and coach Fran) were not pleased with the offensive lines efforts. After getting yelled at a few times, the line stepped it up, getting much better push and opening up holes for the running backs. Chris Nutall made several good plays, including a big run up the right sideline that would have been about a 40 yard touchdown and a swing pass where he made a corner look silly with a nice juke back inside for about 15 yards. Though there were positive plays like these from Nutall, the defense was regularly putting pressure on the quarterback (defensive coaches were ecstatic, offense not so much). Several times the quarterbacks could not find an open receiver, or were flushed out of the pocket and tucked the ball to run.

For the backs, Nutall made several nice catches out of the backfield and looked very comfortable running the ball. He doesn't look to have lost much of a step having sat out this past season. Steadman Mayberry got several reps with the first team and looks like he will be an elusive runner in his own right. I did not see him catch any passes in 11 on 11.

As I stated, for tonight's practice I wanted to focus on the running backs and offensive line, but the defense did their best to catch my attention. Coach John Thompson has all three defensive units flying to the football. The defensive backs continue to be my favorite group to watch on this team. They have done a great job at sticking with receivers, not allowing any easy catches, and have done well at not getting beat deep down the field. I can't wait to see these guys in game action.

Tim Gay also impressed today. He was all over the field. The coaches first had him working as a stand up line backer/defensive end, running back, H-back, and up back on the punt team. Gay looks like a great athlete, so I'm glad the coaches are utilizing his talents.

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