One of the things that Leach has been missing is a truly talented and tenacious defense, which seemed to manifest itself today during practice.
"I thought the intensity was excellent. You could have been on the top row (of Jones AT&T stadium) facing (away) and you could have heard that football was going on," said Leach. "I thought there was great collisions, I thought the intensity was excellent, I thought execution not always perfect really on either side. This might be one of the best defensive efforts I've seen since I've been here.
"If you could see the difference between here and Saturday you could hear the difference."
Leach was dissatisfied with the effort put forth by his team during the Red and Black game Saturday, which lead to the impromptu scrimmage today.
"If we would have looked like this Saturday I would have been happy with Saturday," said Leach. "We were leaners on Saturday, this group would lean on this group and then whatever happened, happened."
Since making promoting Ruffin McNeil to defensive coordinator, Leach has let McNeil run his unit and it has made an impression on Leach.
"This was the most intense defense; I thought the defense really did a great job. This has to be a starting point, I mean we need to build from here. We have a chance to be good on defense if we build from this point.
Notable Notes :
Coach Leach, after observing the defense roughly treating his offense throughout practice, made a bet with the defensive players on the last possession of practice. The situation had the defensive unit up 6 points and the offense had one chance to score. The first player was a run which netted around 5 yards. The second play was a go route that was thrown slightly short of the Southwest, front corner of the endzone. Jamar Wall and Michael Crabtree both went up for the ball but Wall was able to bring it down and end practice with a defensive victory.
- Daniel Charbonnet was one of the defensive standouts during practice today and has gone a long way towards securing a starting spot in the 2008 season. Charbonnet isn't the biggest or fastest player on the field but has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He and Darcel McBath are a tremendous pair at safety and have done an outstanding job this spring.
- Defensive tackle David Neill could very well be the most improved defensive freshman this year. Neill has had the light-bulb come on in the last few practices and was once again nearly impossible to block during today's practice. Neill wasn't credited for what should have been a touch sack and he seems to have picked up Jake Ratliff's mentality which paired with Neill's 6'5" and 285 pound frame it is a dangerous combination.
- Jamar Wall was nearly beheaded today while returning a punt. Scout-team inside receiver Gerardo Acevedo clocked Wall just before fielding a punt. Wall went to the turf, though bounced right back up, while cornerback's coach Brian Mitchell made very clear his displeasure at the inappropriate hit on Wall.
- Michael Crabtree showed his ability to catch the ball in traffic today and make the difficult catch, though he was unable to prevent an interception by Jamar Wall at the end of practice.
- The defensive unit was by far the more motivated of the units today during practice as every player, including the observing Brandon Sesay, were vocal and cheering their fellow players on.