Spring Practice Report #9
The tenth Spring Practice session was a strange one, with lots of wind, temperature changes, and interesting happenings. The players were out of pads so Leach could get them to focus on technique and tempo. This was difficult, however, considering that the wind was moving the ball all around the field.
Graham Harrell once again proved to be the best quarterback near the endzone, scoring three touchdowns on the afternoon. Graham is also usually the most consistent, and his interception today came on a batted ball off a dropped pass. Harrell was wearing a knee brace on-and-off throughout the practice, which is a slight point of concern, but his performance did not appear to be affected by it.
Chris Todd started off somewhat poorly, having difficulty adjusting his throws to the stiff wind. Chris had a few overthrows early, but it was only a matter of time until he got the wind figured out. Todd was flawless in the 11-on-11, and had it not been for one poor read that resulted in an interception in the 7-on-7, he would have been among the day's top performers.
Ryan Rowland did not see many reps today, but he did well to avoid mistakes and make the most of his limited opportunities. Also worth noting is that he showed great arm strength today, putting enough steam on his throws to prevent the wind from becoming a factor. He continues to play well and play smart.
Harrell 13-16, 115 yards, 2TD, INT
Todd 7-12, 42 yards, INT
Rowland 5-9, 38 yards
Harrell 13-15, 141 yards, TD
Todd 11-11, 105 yards
Rowland 4-6, 31 yards
Cumulative Practice Statistics:
Harrell 26-31, 156 yards, 3 TD, INT
Todd 18-23, 147 yards, INT
Rowland 9-15, 69 yards
Full Scrimmage Statistics:
Shannon Woods: 1 rushing attempt for 5 yards, TD; 7 catches for 26 yards
Kobey Lewis: 3 rushing attempts for 13 yards, TD; 6 catches for 36 yards
Pete Richardson: 4 rushing attempts for 20 yards, 3 TD; 2 catches for 16 yards
Today's practice was all about Jarrett Hicks. In addition to providing leadership to Todd Walker and Chris Cunigan, he was absolutely torching the defenders today. Robert Johnson once again was the favorite target of the practice, and appeared to be moving around fine today after hobbling around following Wednesday's practice. Todd Walker wore the #1 jersey again, but was not the day's number one receiver considering how few touches he got this afternoon. Todd's brother Grant did see quite a bit of action today, though, as did L.A. Reed. Reed's hands look to have improved since last year, and he will see some PT in games next year. Amendola had another good practice, and remains consistent enough to keep his starting spot as the H receiver for next season. Joel Filani saw only slight action today, but had a great catch on an inside slant for a touchdown. Kelly Hildebrandt continues to not play like a second string WR, constantly finding ways to get it done. Catron Houston ran some slip-screens today, and does them with success. Expect to see him used this way before his time as a Red Raider is through. Chris Cunigan made quite a few catches today, and it's good to see that his hands appear to be improving. The receiving corps did an excellent job adjusting their routes with the wind today, but Hicks was the only one who truly impressed.
Cumulative Practice Statistics:
Jarrett Hicks: 6 catches for 134 yards, 2 TD
Robert Johnson: 7 catches for 52 yards
L.A. Reed: 4 catches for 47 yards
Grant Walker: 6 catches for 45 yards
Catron Houston: 3 catches for 27 yards
Kelly Hildebrandt: 2 catches for 24 yards
Danny Amendola: 4 catches for 23 yards
Joel Filani: 2 catches for 17 yards, TD
Chris Cunigan: 1 catch for 9 yards
Todd Walker: 2 catches for 7 yards
David Schaefer: 1 catch for 5 yards
The offensive line had another strong effort, but unfortunately, it came with an asterisk. Leach was having the line work on a silent count and hard count for the snap in order to draw the defenders offsides. The team struggled with this for many reasons, the first of them being that the defense knew it was coming, so they intentionally tried not to jump. Also, the centers and quarterbacks had some difficulty with their exchanges, and the blame falls equally upon both parties for this. Fortunately, the offense appeared to have it down by the end of practice. Still, the line deserves commendation for blocking well this afternoon.
The big story here was that Dek Bake was out of pads today. Many people, including myself, believe him to be capable of pushing for a starting spot if he remains healthy, so we look forward to his return. Tyler Yenzer continues to be disruptive, and Phillip Jones had a TFL today. Rashad Hunt is progressing very well, and had a TFL today as well. The defensive line seemed to have Pete Richardson figured out today, holding him to just one yard rushing. However, Kobey Lewis and the push of the offensive line made them look downright silly at times. Perhaps they can rebound on Friday, but if the offensive line plays like they did today, it will make that an awfully difficult proposition.
There have been requests to highlight this unit with all of the uncertainty here, and since none of the other defensive units failed to do anything particularly special today, it appears that today will be as good a day as any to give the DBs a deeper look. I will begin here with a look at the depth chart, and provide my guesses as to the starters for each position.
LCB may very well be the only position in the secondary that is locked down right now. Antonio Huffman has played well all Spring, and has the experience to start for next year. Huffman also might be the hardest hitting defensive back for the 2006 Red Raiders. Injured CB Marcus Bunton may start at RCB if Parker does not get healthy by next season, but might end up backing up Huffman for depth reasons at LCB if Parker is ready to go. Nathan Stone and Daniel Charbonet have shown flashes of brilliance, but are too young to see the field unless injuries become a major factor.
James "Scooter" Conwright
The starter at RCB is going to depend on how healed Chris Parker is. I believe Parker to be the most talented of the group, but unfortunately, he also appears to be the most injured. Parker has not practiced yet, but if he is healthy by the time next season rolls around, he should get the starting spot. James Conwright appears to be the current backup, but that all may change depending on Parker's status. Nickerson has shown promise, but is too inexperienced to contend for the starting spot unless Parker is not healthy. Clarence Ward has to sit out next year for transfer eligibility reasons, otherwise he might be higher on the depth chart. As of right now, Conwright has been the most consistent in my opinion, so I think that he gets the backup spot
Thus far, it appears that McBath is progressing well enough to supplant Lance Fuller from the starting spot. McBath appears to be faster and more agile, and is picking up the finer points of the safety position. Lance Fuller has a better grasp of the overall game, though, so don't count him out by any means. Jordy Rowland looks to be a solid player as well, but has not shown the consistency to be a starter. Chris Cruz has shown some impressive play, but has not gotten enough reps to indicate that he could be a contender for the starting job.
This battle is getting more interesting with each passing day, as Hines has stepped in very well in Joe Garcia's absence, so it might be a very even race once Garcia returns to full-time duty. Garcia has more experience, though, so as of right now, he looks to be the one who will get the nod. LaShawn Vation has been battling an injury throughout most of the Spring, so it has been difficult to gauge his progression. Taylor Read has played well, but does not have the playing time thus far in the Spring to jump into a starting spot next year.
Now let's hand out some awards:
Best Overall Unit:
Best Individual Performance: