In position: The original spring depth chart listed Drew Kelson as the No. 3 at free safety, but the sophomore head hunter is, as expected, practicing at strong safety as the back-up to starter Michael Huff. Friday, the prototype SS blew up back-to-back plays, first dragging down back-up tailback Chris Ogbonnaya for a loss in the backfield and then contributing in the leveling of Michael Houston as he rumbled past the line of scrimmage and for his biggest gain of the day before meeting the Houston Lamar headhunter. (On that same play, back-up weakside DE Brian Orakpo had to be helped off the field because of an injury of unknown severity.)
Call him Hoover: Redshirt freshman wideout Jordan Shipley vacuumed up everything thrown his way Friday, during drills and during 11-on-11. Wait, he did fail to haul in one ball, but credit starting corner Cedric Griffin for his timely play on the ball on an over-the-middle route, knocking the ball away before Hoover, er, Jordan could suck it in. Shipley's best grab of the day also came in tight coverage. Matt Nordgren lofted a jump ball to the right sideline where Shipley and CB Aaron Ross both went vertical to retrieve. As bodies returned to earth, Shipley squirted up the boundary, ball in hands.
Man in the middle: MLB Scott Derry continued to work with the first-team defense while returning starter Aaron Harris toiled away with the No. 2s. WLB Robert Killebrew and SLB Eric Foreman were the other 11-on-11 "starters" Friday while WLB Eric Hall and, today at least, SLB Braden Johnson joined Harris with the twos. The third group consisted of WLB Nic Redwine, MLB Rashad Bobino and SLB Jeremy Campbell.
From depleted to deep: One of the more intriguing playing time battles of spring is at weakside DE, a thin spot in '04 but where returning '04 starter Brian Robison, projected '04 starter (before being sidelined by academics) Mike Williams and hyped redshirt freshman Brian Orakpo are now rotating in and out of the line-up, and all showing flashes. Robison is the first man on the field, and he demonstrated his patented leaping ability Friday by blocking a pass at the line of scrimmage. Williams registered a sack during 11-on-11 by beating starting LT Jonathan Scott with an outside speed rush.
Reaction of the day: After Neale Tweedie hauled in a Matt Nordgren catch on the left sideline, Ramonce Taylor, Kasey Studdard, Vince Young and David Thomas, among others, raced from the far side of the field to mob the junior tight end. As VY returned to the offensive players' side of the field, he slowly arced in front of the gathered defenders, cupping his ear listening to the silence. You see, the defenders, as a group, (spurred on by coaches Akina, Chizik and Giles, who run onto the field and to the players after about every snap) had been a bit more boisterous and frequent with their mob scenes after a great defensive play.
Reaction of the day, part two: It's Vince, again. On a zone read play, the junior QB faked the handoff to Chris Ogbonnaya moving right and, as the entire middle of the defense moved right along with the running back, took off running to the left and found nothing but a cornerback and then green of the Denius grass in front of him to the end zone. With the play quickly blown dead, VY jogged downfield a bit and offered an outstretched arm towards the end zone, his almost certain destination.