Graham Harrell seemed to have recovered from his slump of late last week and early this week as practice progressed from the beginning to the end. Harrell still looked timid and a little scared early in practice but as the day wore on he calmed down and ended the scrimmage about as precise as one could hope. Harrell showed off good arm strength and poise during the 11-on-11 portion of practice and seemed to have "it" back, whatever "it" is. Perhaps it is confidence, the nicer weather, or even a little encouragement from Coach Riley. Overall, a much better day for Harrell in making quick reads and good decisions with the football, he didn't throw an interception during practice today.
Taylor Potts continues to improve each practice and while he wasn't better than Harrell today, he certainly was not worse. Potts showed off terrific arm strength today with several great throws, including a bullet to Adrian Reese while rolling to his right and throwing back across the field. Potts is also starting to show some of the characteristics that one would expect of a player with greater experience. Potts continues to have a good relationship with his former high school teammate Lyle Leong and the two look like they can read each others minds.
Steven Sheffield seems to have faded almost completely into obscurity at this point in spring practice and it is unlikely that he will be able to move into the back-up slot now unless something unforeseen happens. Sheffield still has good arm strength and good foot speed but he doesn't seem to have put all of the needed parts of being a Division 1 quarterback together.
Quarterback Depth Chart
Starter: Graham Harrell
Back-Up: Taylor Potts
3rd String: Steven Sheffield
Overall Grade - B, a better day overall for Harrell and another very good day for Potts, they did miss on some throws today during the pass skeleton drill.
Running Backs :
The running backs had a good day both running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield. Kobey Lewis had several good runs and showed a great burst late in practice on a play near the goal line by burrowing his way under the defense into the end zone. Lewis is still a huge threat on screen and draw plays because of his ability to hide behind the offensive line. Lewis also had a terrific block today that could not have been done better by someone two or three times his size.
Shannon Woods continues to explode through the hole and is a physical blocker. Woods also seems to have improved his hands when it comes to catching the football and had several nice receptions during the later parts of practice. Woods still needs to continue to learn how to read his blocks but overall Woods is continuing to build on his impressive debut season as a starter during 2006.
Running Backs Depth Chart
Starter: Shannon Woods
Back Up: Kobey Lewis
Overall Grade - B+, the backs had a good day but need to continue to keep up their effort and tenacity all the way through practice.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends :
The wide receivers had a good day and today's practice saw the return of Grant Walker. Grant had several nice receptions during practice today but still moves with a bit of a gimp and doesn't seem to be going quite full speed and instead seems to be going about 85 or 90% of his top speed. Danny Amendola had a good day but seemed to have a minor injury to his left leg and looked a bit gimpy during practice. Adrian Reese had a few drops early in practice but had several terrific catches including one where he caught the ball, bounced off of Kellen Tillman, and then took a terrific shot from Marcus Bunton in the lower back. Reese didn't drop the ball and got right back up and walked to the huddle to prepare for the next play. Reese also had a great touchdown catch during the 11-on-11 portion of practice and continues to impress when he does have the ball in his hands.
Eric Morris had several nice catches today and continues to show great hands, even with his diminutive size. Morris is going to force his way onto the field next year and could have a huge season if the quarterbacks are willing to get the ball to him in stride on a consistent basis. Kelly Hildebrandt rebounded from a poor showing during last weeks practice and had several good catches today. Hildebrandt should be a very capable back-up for Eric Morris next season as long as he is having a good day catching the football. Adam James seems to be splitting his time between being a Big H and a true H receiver. James had several good catches today but needs to continue to work on his hands after dropping a sure touchdown from Taylor Potts during the 11-on-11 portion or practice. James brings a size and physicality to the H position that could provide some intriguing match-ups during his time as a Red Raider.
Eddie Britton had a decent day but did drop a few balls that could have been caught while LA Reed continues to be very inconsistent in regards to catching the ball. He can occasionally make a terrific catch but then will drop the routine play that a high school receiver could make. Reed must become more consistent if he expects to beat out Eddie Britton and a healthy Todd Walker for the starting X receiving position. Britton's athleticism and ability to move with the ball after the catch make him a dangerous threat and it is very likely that unless LA Reed suddenly becomes a very consistent receiver then he could face a serious fight from Eddie Britton for the starting position.
Michael Crabtree continues to impress at the Z receiver position although he did have trouble bringing in three balls today during practice. Crabtree looks so fluid running his routes and does an outstanding job of securing the football as soon as he catches it. Crabtree also does an outstanding job of catching the football by snatching it out of the air instead of waiting for it to come to him. Lyle Leong continues to look good even with his broken hand and while he is sometimes inconsistent with his ability to catch the football, it should improve once the cast is off of his hand. Lyle runs good routes but needs to continue to master the Air Raid Offense to be able to contribute during the 2007 campaign.
David Schaefer doesn't catch a lot of passes but still does an outstanding job of blocking on running and passing plays and does so without any credit or praise except from the coaches. Schaefer is also one of the most intelligent players on the team and looks to have a future in politics. His opinion of Nancy Pelosi was quite intriguing but unfortunately, this is not the time or the place to discuss David's political views or party affiliation.
Receiver Depth Chart -
Z- Michael Crabtree, Lyle Leong, Landon Hoefer
Y- Danny Amendola, G. Walker
H- Eric Morris, Kelly Hildebrant
X- LA Reed/Eddie Britton, Brik Brinker (Todd Walker, injured)
Overall Grade - B, the receivers looked good but some of the members of the group were a little to inconsistent to have earned a higher grade.
Offensive Line :
The offensive line looked good today with the return of Brandon Carter for the entire practice but center Shawn Byrnes is still out resting an injury from a scrimmage last weekend to his head. Justin Keown is doing a terrific job filling in and could have been the best surprise of the offensive line had Stephen "Hambone" Hamby not appeared on the radar.
Hamby continues to impress with his versatility and ability to play right guard, center, and left guard. Hamby's strength is good but his awareness is amazing. Why he wasn't signed out of high school boggles one's mind but he could certainly be one of the biggest contributors of the 2007 season. Chris Olson also continues to play extremely well at left or right guard and still does see some time at tackle but guard seems to be his best position right now. His versatility is a huge strength and he should certainly continue to progress under the tutelage of Coach Bicknell. Rylan Reed and Marlon Winn both continue to play well but Reed was the focus of Coach Bicknell's wrath during an early portion of practice for not playing "with an expression on his face". Reed did look much better as practice progressed and should be a solid contributor during the 2007 season.
Louis Vasquez continues to have a very good spring and spends most of his time with the starters at left guard while he time with the back-ups is at left tackle. Vasquez seems to be moving extremely well and the difficulty that he had in playing left tackle last season seems to have vanished under the new offensive line coach.
Offensive Line Depth Chart -
Right Tackle: Rylan Reed, Andrew Johnson
Right Guard: Brandon Carter (Injured), Stephen Hamby
Center: Shawn Byrnes, Justin Keown
Left Guard: Louis Vasquez, Stephen Hamby
Left Tackle: Marlon Winn, Chris Olson
Overall Grade - B, the line did a good job in pass protection, even though they did give up several sacks during the 11-on-11 portion of practice. They also were not quite as explosive off the ball as they have been in the running game, but this could be attributed to the nascence of center Shawn Byrnes.
Defensive Line :
The defensive line had a very good day both against the run and against the pass. Sandy Riley and Brandon Williams are going to be one of the best defensive tandem's in the Big XII and it is entirely possible that Riley may be on the field in all passing situations next year and especially against slower right tackles. Riley and Williams are built a little differently with Williams being taller and Riley a little wider, they both have great moves and terrific explosion off of the ball.
Phillip Jones, Jake Ratliff, and Tyler Yenzer are not nearly as adept pass-rushers as Riley or Williams but the three previously mentioned players are all incredibly strong and should be a great trio of run-stuffing ends. Ratliff has the best strength, Jones the best motor, and Yenzer the best pass-rush moves. Those three could also take part in the four ends package that the Red Raiders used in passing situations during the 2006 season with two of the three as interior linemen and Riley and Williams outside.
Brian Jones, Britton Barbee, Clint Stoffles, and RaJon Henley all had good days today. Stoffels had two sacks and a tackle for loss during today's 11-on-11 scrimmage while Brian Jones and Britton Barbee combined for a tackle for loss. Barbee also had a leaping pass deflection at the line and is getting better everyday with Coach McNeil's help.
Overall Grade - A, the line was very physical today and continues to bond and grow during every practice.
The linebackers had a good day and showed great pursuit to the football. Paul Williams finally had his banner day with a crushing hit on Eddie Britton along with several very tackles near or just behind the line of scrimmage. Marlon Williams continues to play extremely well and it is becoming more and more likely that Chad Hill may not be a starter next season with Williams' rapid progression. Kellen Tillman also played well today but was more quiet than his last several practices.
Julius Howard had a great pass break-up and he looks like things are starting to click for him as spring practice progresses. Blake Collier had a shaky start to practice but finished well and is going to be a force against both the pass and the run next season.
Linebackers Depth Chart
Weak Side Linebacker: Marlon Williams, Blake Collier, Julius Howard
Strong Side Linebacker: Kellen Tillman, Ty Linder, Brian Duncan
Overall Grade - B+, overall a quiet day for the linebackers, they did make the plays that they were called to but missed a few opportunities that would have truly impressed.
The secondary had a good day but did not record a take away during today's practice. Darcel McBath had a great one handed pass break-up and Anthony Hines seems to be on the field more and more as the days progress. Joe Garcia played well but suffered a minor injury during the latter part of practices that looked serious but he did get up and walk it off, although he didn't return to the scrimmage part of practice.
Marcus Bunton and Jamar Wall continue to play well and are getting better and better every practice. Brent Nickerson and Pete Richardson are also starting to improve and look like they are almost ready to contribute at the Big XII level. De'Shon Sanders continues to play at an extremely high level and if he can learn the nuances and specifics of the cornerback position he should be a great player next season.
Secondary Depth Chart -
Right Cornerback: Marcus Bunton, Brent Nickerson, De'Shon Sanders
Strong Safety: Joe Garcia, Anthony Hines, Daniel Charbonnet
Left Cornerback: Jamar Wall, Pete Richardson/LaRon Moore
Overall Grade - B+, the corners and safeties had a good day but need to be able to take away passes instead of just knocking them away.
Now it's time for some awards
Offensive MVP: Louis Vasquez
Defensive MVP: Clint Stoffels
Mr. Underrated: Brian Jones
New Comer of the Day: Stephen Hamby
Unit of the day: Defensive Line
Come back Friday for the next RaiderPower Practice report!