Note: If this report seems truncated, it is because we are limited in what we can write as part of the agreement that allows us access to practice.
Wednesday's practice was the first practice of fall closed to the public, and as such, it was the first practice to involve heavy game preparation for the season opener against Rice. As Coach Mora discussed after practice, the team unveiled scout teams for the first time this year.
Brett Hundley took some lumps during team periods, but had a very nice period of 7 on 7 toward the end of practice, hitting a number of good throws. During team periods, he had a nice deep touchdown pass to Steven Manfro, and then during 7 on 7, his deep ball looked better than it has in several days. He hooked up with Manfro again during 7 on 7 for a long completion that was stopped just short of a touchdown by Ishmael Adams.
The special teamers were doing some interesting balance drills today. Jeff Locke, Ka'imi Fairbairn, and Justin Moreno were practicing balance drills on the bleachers, with each of them balancing on their off foots while swinging their legs in slow motion through a field goal kicking swing. It was actually really impressive to watch. At one point, Locke must have gone through three or four really slow swings in a row without bringing his leg down.
Jeff Baca, Albert Cid, and Greg Capella all returned to practice, after sitting out with concussions. They have not yet started to work in team drills, but Coach Mora said they have passed through the acclimatization period.
Ellis McCarthy made his way back onto the field and participated in individual drills.
Jordan Payton gave Randall Goforth a pretty firm stiff arm during the initial period of team drills, knocking Goforth to the ground before making a touchdown catch. The college game seems to have been an adjustment for Payton, but he's come on in recent practices.
The offensive line looked better than it did yesterday, with much the same personnel as in the evening. Simon Goines in particular looks much improved from where he was just a few days ago, displaying some pretty sound technique. For him, it's just going to be a body and conditioning question.
Malcolm Jones ran well today, and it's worth reiterating that he looks quicker than he did last year, and might have shed a few pounds. His cuts are a lot quicker, and while he's not exactly making guys miss, he is keeping them from putting hands on him too easily.
If Kenny Walker can refine his catching technique a little, he's going to have a chance to be an impact player. He has great speed, and runs very good routes. However, he has dropped a few passes in recent days, so hands could be a question mark at this point.