Graham Harrell looks like a different man, even different from the man that he was in the spring. Harrell has taken the mantle of leadership that so many felt he was lacking and seems to be doing an outstanding job with it thus far. He is leading by example, encouraging his fellow offensive players, and helping build the confidence that this team needs. Harrell has pinpoint accuracy and while he doesn't have a cannon for an arm, it isn't exactly a pea shooter either. Harrell continues to be head and shoulders above anyone else on Tech's roster and should be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the Big XII and the country.
Taylor Potts had a good day of practice and showed off his arm strength on several occasions. Potts still seems to check down a little too quickly and doesn't quite have the confidence in himself to let a pass go that isn't a surely open throw.
Steven Sheffield still throws one of the prettiest balls in fall practice and had several good throws today. Loucks and Bobby Scott worked with the scout team and did not participate during the 11-on-11 portion of practice.
Quarterback Depth Chart
Starter: Graham Harrell
Back-Up: Taylor Potts
3rd String: Steven Sheffield
Scout Team: Stefan Loucks/Bobby Scott
Overall Grade - A
Kobey Lewis, Shannon Woods, and Baron Batch spent about the same amount of time with the starting offense today. Batch had the best day as he broke free of the defense and went flying down the sideline for what would have been at least a 20-30 yard gain. Lewis had several nice runs while Shannon did his best work on passes today. It seems that perhaps a running back by committee is being tested with each player having a different role.
Running Backs Depth Chart
Starter: Kobey Lewis
Back Up: Shannon Woods /Baron Batch
Scout Team: Ryan Hayes, Jared Flannel, Aaron Crawford Overall Grade - A-
Wide Receivers/Big H&Y:
Lyle Leong had another outstanding day of practice and is going to force the coaches to put him on the field during the 2007 season. While Leong doesn't have the size to be an every-down receiver yet, he is certainly capable of coming in and helping Michael Crabtree at Z and could probably play at X as well, if the need arose. Edward Britton had a quiet day as LA Reed was a monster from the X position today with several nice catches and powerful runs after the catch. Crabtree was a little quieter today than he has been in the past, but it doesn't change what he is likely to do come football season.
Out of all of the slot receivers, it was the back-up players that drew the biggest "wow" today. Tramain Swindall made an outstanding catch in traffic after dropping a similar pass a few plays earlier. Kelly Hildebrandt continues to remove the monkey from his back (the monkey being his inability to catch consistently and crack the two deep) with an outstanding over the shoulder flag route reception today. Danny Amendola had a quietly productive day, while Eric Morris showed off good hands as he spent the day catching the "move the chain" passes from both Graham Harrell and Taylor Potts.
Rashad Hawk and Jacoby Franks had several good receptions today and the two will be star wide receivers for the Red Raiders when their time comes around. Hawk is in dire need of more bulk to his frame and could easily carry another 15-20 pounds. Franks is another player that could use a little more weight but he seems to be the most complete between Hawk and himself. Detron Lewis and Todd Walker were on muscle beach again today while Grant Walker worked with the strength and conditioning staff to get back into the groove of things.
Receiver Depth Chart -
Z- Michael Crabtree, Lyle Leong, Landon Hoefer
Y- Danny Amendola, G. Walker (Injured), Tramain Swindall
H- Eric Morris, Kelly Hildebrandt/Detron Lewis
X- LA Reed, Eddie Britton, Brik Brinker (Todd Walker, injured)
Overall Grade - B
The starting offensive line consisted of Rylan Reed, Brandon Carter, Shawn Byrnes, Stephen Hamby, and Marlon Winn. This unit had a very good day and looked sharp without stalwart Louis Vasquez. Carter and Byrnes just might be the best center/guard tandem in the Big XII and they are only improving during each practice. Rylan Reed plays extremely well at all times and his consistency borders on boring. He should be nearly as good as Gabe Hall was during his first season as the Red Raiders right tackle.
Landon Burge seems to be taking the EJ Whitley approached to getting playing time. Burge has spent time at left guard, right guard, and now right tackle. Burge is smaller than most of the other offensive linemen but does a great job with his technique and provides great depth for the Red Raiders. Jake Johnson saw a small amount of time at right guard today but seems to be a better fit as a right tackle than a right guard. Lonnie Edwards was working as the left guard today and Chris Olson spent time at left tackle. Justin Keown (pronounced Kown) is proving to have been an excellent pick up and continues to improve under Coach Moore.
Jared Gooch may one day be an outstanding left tackle for the Red Raiders but was beaten soundly today on several occasions. Gooch doesn't quite have the technical skills to go with his size and strength but will have time to grow into them. Blake Emert is taking well to his new position of center and has a great example in Shawn Byrnes to learn from along with former Red Raider center Brandon Jones. Dominique Delpehce is still adjusting to the heat and exertion that this offense puts on offensive linemen but progressing well. Mickey Okafor is absolutely MASSIVE and looks like he could start for the Dallas Cowboys and no one would blink, at least from a physical point of view. Okafor is another player that needs more practice time to become comfortable in his pass blocking skills before he will see the field.
Offensive Line Depth Chart -
Right Tackle: Rylan Reed, Jake Johnson, Mickey Okafor
Right Guard: Brandon Carter , Stephen Hamby, Dominique Delpeche
Center: Shawn Byrnes, Justin Keown, Blake Emert
Left Guard: Marlon Winn, Adrian Archie/Lonnie Edwards, Landon Burge
Left Tackle: Louis Vasquez(Injured), Chris Olson, Jerrod Gooch
Overall Grade - A-
Defensive Line :
With Tyler Yenzer held out to allow him to recover from yesterday's scare, there was a bit of a shake up with the defensive ends. Sandy Riley was splitting time with Brandon Williams at rush end and Williams also saw more snaps at strong side end. Jake Ratliff spent a few plays inside at defensive tackle, which allowed red shirt sophomore Phillip Jones playing time on the strong side. Daniel Howard is still working on the weak side while Brandon Sharpe is still dealing with a death in his family.
Clint Stoffels and Rajon Henley had a good day of practice from the interior tackle spots and look to have control of their own destiny as far as starting. Brian and Richard Jones could be clones of the same person. Both are around 6 feet tall and both are rocks that are difficult for an offensive line to move. Colby Whitlock was once again working in with some of the players that have been on campus longer than he and held his own. If Whitlock can get the mental aspect of it to line up for him he has the physical tools. Whitlock is particularly good at pursuit down the line of scrimmage. Bobby Agoucha was strangely absent from practice today; no further information was available on his absence. David Neill seems slated to red shirt and has been playing end, not tackle, with the scout team.
Strong Side (left) end: Jake Ratliff, Phillip Jones, Daniel Howard
Defensive Tackle (left): Rajon Henley, Brian Jones, Bobby Agoucha
Nose Guard (right): Clint Stoffels, Richard Jones, Colby Whitlock
Weak side (right) end: Brandon Williams, Tyler Yenzer(Injured)/Sandy Riley, Brandon Sharpe
Overall Grade - A-
Kellen Tillman is a force coming off of the end. Tillman would not be credited for a tackle but he absolutely punched a hole in a group of offensive linemen to allow his fellow defenders to come in and make the tackle. Paul Williams and Chad Hill are both very adept in pass coverage as well as being strong enough to come up and make a play against the run. Hill and Marlon Williams continue to battle for the starting weak side linebacker position, although Williams had the flashier day and incited the brawl that occurred in the latter portion of practice.
Victor Hunter, Ty Linder, and a combination of Julius Howard/Marlon Williams made up the second string linebackers. Hunter showed today why fans should be so excited to see him as a middle linebacker. Although he is still absolutely huge for a linebacker, he has great presence and used his bulk to stand up an offensive linemen to force a play back toward the defensive pursuit. Linder is by far the loudest cheerleader on the team and seems to make a play when they put him on the field. Linder is the type of player that every team needs and provides the right kind of leadership for a defense lacking in returning front 7 players.
Linebackers Depth Chart
Weak Side Linebacker: Chad Hill/Marlon Williams, Julius Howard, Blake Collier (Injured), Tyrone Sonier
Middle Linebacker: Paul Williams, Victor Hunter/Marlon Williams, Ryan Hale, Sam Fehoko
Strong Side Linebacker: Kellen Tillman, Ty Linder, Brian Duncan, Bront Bird
Overall Grade - A
The cornerbacks had an outstanding day of practice as they dominated when playing press coverage and were very good at closing the gap between offensive players who had broken free. Jamar Wall and Chris Parker are the two best-known corners but there is a serious fight for the next best player at the position. Marcus Bunton has the inside track on the job while Brent Nickerson and Pete Richardson have come on strong as of late. LaRon Moore needs game experience before he is ready to be rated as good as the rest of this group, although he did have a diving interception today during team drills. De'Shon Sanders and Taylor Charbonnet both have worlds of talent but need more practice time to forge that talent into the skills needed to be an effective cornerback.
Darcel McBath had a one-handed interception today against the scout team that would have gone for 6 points. McBath also had several other good plays during practice and helped to break up a deep pass intended for Tramain Swindall. Joe Garcia was a little tight early in practice but was back in his usually hard-hitting form. Garcia will be similar to Dwayne Slay with regarde to coverage and hitting ability. Anthony Hines is making his case for the starting strong safety position in 2008 right now and one can only wonder if he might have won the position outright last year had he not been injured. Daniel Charbonnet and Jordy Rowland round out the third team while Lance Fuller seems to be the first free safety off of the bench.
Secondary Depth Chart -
Right Cornerback: Chris Parker, Marcus Bunton, Brent Nickerson, De'Shon Sanders
Free Safety: Darcel McBath, Daniel Charbonnet/Lance Fuller, Jordy Rowland
Strong Safety: Joe Garcia, Anthony Hines, Daniel Charbonnet
Left Cornerback: Jamar Wall, Pete Richardson/LaRon Moore
Overall Grade - A-
Now it's time for some awards
Offensive MVP: LA Reed
Defensive MVP: Marlon Williams
Mr. Underrated: Kelly Hildebrandt
New Comer of the Day: Tramain Swindall
Come back tomorrow for the next RaiderPower Practice report!