Spring Practice Report #8
Bull in the Ring
Graham Harrell had a sub-par practice by his standards, looking like what other teams' quarterbacks must be like to watch. Graham wasn't particularly bad, but he wasn't hitting the receivers right between the numbers like he usually does. Harrell did do an excellent job of drawing the defensive line offsides, forcing what would have been a penalty on three separate occasions.
Chris Todd had a good day in comparison to Harrell, but continues to hold the ball too long and resort to dump-off passes much more often than Graham does. Still, Todd was a more accurate thrower on the afternoon, and did well to avoid mistakes. Chris was the only quarterback in the scrimmages who did not commit a turnover.
After Saturday's superb effort, Ryan Rowland failed to continue such play this afternoon in what can only be described as an off day. He had quite a bit of trouble in the 11-on-11 drills, looking like a completely different quarterback than the poised player we watched last practice. I fully expect him to return to top form on Wednesday.
Harrell 12-14, 98 yards, 2 TD
Todd 9-13, 75 yards, 2 TD
Rowland 7-10, 44 yards
Harrell 7-11, 50 yards, TD, INT
Todd 7-10, 87 yards, TD
Rowland 1-6, 5 yards, INT
Cumulative Practice Statistics:
Harrell 19-26, 148 yards, 3 TD, INT
Todd 16-23, 162 yards, 3 TD
Rowland 8-16, 49 yards, INT
Full Scrimmage Statistics:
Kobey Lewis: 5 rushing attempts for 3 yards; 5 catches for 48 yards, TD
Pete Richardson: 3 rushing attempts for 13 yards, 7 catches for 27 yards
Other than the Walker brothers and Filani, the receiving corps had a relatively mediocre day. Grant Walker did a terrific job of finding the open spaces, and as a result, the quarterbacks threw his way all afternoon. Grant's brother Todd was also very elusive today, with an excellent juke on an out pattern that resulted in a touchdown because it worked so well. I have to give props to Filani for making me eat my words for criticizing his ability on the end-around. He broke the play for a 20-yard touchdown today, and did it flawlessly. Joel also continues to be the most viable deep threat, nabbing a receiving touchdown today as well. Kelly Hildebrandt scored the day's only other TD, once again accomplishing a great deal through playing his heart out. Danny Amendola laid some excellent blocks today, and did well in receiving, but he didn't see much action overall. In a bit of disturbing news, Robert Johnson was out of pads today. I would hypothesize that he is just resting up from soreness from Saturday's long scrimmage, as he did not appear to be suffering from a serious injury. Chris Cunigan made the most of his few opportunities today, as did Edward Britton, but neither really had a chance to shine. Overall, the receiving corps did not have their best day, but this seems to be an anomaly considering their usual play.
Cumulative Practice Statistics:
Grant Walker: 11 catches for 69 yards, TD
Todd Walker: 4 catches for 37 yards, 2 TD
Joel Filani: 2 catches for 29 yards, TD; 20 yards rushing on 1 attempt, TD
Danny Amendola: 2 catches for 25 yards
Kelly Hildebrandt: 4 catches for 24 yards, TD
Jarrett Hicks: 3 catches for 23 yards
Catron Houston: 2 catches for 21 yards
Edward Britton: 2 catches for 21 yards
Chris Cunigan: 2 catches for 13 yards
The offensive line had a tough day early on in the practice today, looking out of sync in the scrimmage. This may very well have been due to their anchor, Manny Ramirez, not practicing in pads today. After they allowed a few sacks and had a snap go well over the quarterback's head, Leach stopped practice to chew them out and forced the whole offense to do up-and-downs. Thankfully, they stepped up their game following the punishment and finished out the day well. The unit's highlight of the day came when Marlon Winn had a block that created a huge hole for Pete Richardson to run through, but again, the defensive line had the edge overall today.
I cannot stress enough how excellent the defensive line can be once they smell blood in the water. Their effort managed to disrupt the entire offense today, and forced Leach into making the offense do calisthenics after practice as a penalty. Jared Williams, Phillip Jones, and Tyler Yenzer played very well today, recording a sack each. Chris Hudler and Jake Ratliff also made an impact as Hudler deflected a pass and Ratliff continues to find his way into the backfield. Rashad Hunt is arguably the best of the group in open spaces, and does a good job of forcing running backs further outside than they would like to go. The collective effort of the defensive line completely shut down the rushing attack today, as eight attempts netted only 16 yards.
Keyunta Dawson is excellent in pursuit, and better in coverage than anyone could have possibly hoped for. Before Spring practice, I was questioning whether Dawson could be good enough to play with our linebackers, but now I find myself wondering if the linebackers can keep up with Dawson. Ryan Hale continues to play like a Sophomore or Junior, not a Freshman. He laid a good hit on Grant Walker today. Sandy Riley also had a good practice, surprising many with his intensity. The blitzing was effective today as well, getting Kellen Tillman a sack while the LBs recoded several deflections on top of that. The unit had a good day overall, but I've seen them play better
Lance Fuller worked hard today, and it definitely showed. He had an interception off a batted ball and made several good tackles. Fuller was simply everywhere today, and looks like he really wants to protect that starting spot. Anthony Hines also got an INT today, and continues to fill in well for Joe Garcia. Garcia practiced in all of the drills today, which was an encouraging sign, but sat out for the scrimmage. Still, this is a testament to the lack of severity in his injury. Needless to say, it is nice to see some of the players improve their game while others sit out and provide the secondary with more depth.
Best Overall Unit:
Best Individual Performance:
Mr. Underrated: (tie)