Practice Comments & Notes

Who did Head Coach Karl Dorrell describe as the defensive MVP of winter practice? A couple of defensive line starters also see some action Thursday for the first time in a while...

Comments after practice from Head Coach Karl Dorrell:

"I think we're anxious to have a real extended scrimmage right now. We are going to go about 80-100 plays and let these guys play a little bit. This practice, we were kind of putting them in different situations, giving them a little bit of experience of games situations so come Saturday we'll let them go out there and play, let them go out there and compete and hopefully see some plays being made on both sides of the ball and some good things – a lot of things that will hopefully express the future of what our success will be this fall. There are good battles in a lot of positions. I'ts good to see Justin Hickman out there getting some reps, he was already noticed and already getting to the quarterback. Sometimes you miss that when he hasn't practiced in awhile. It's going to be great in the fall, after winter drills, to have our health back. Once we get all the big linemen back, both offensively and defensively, and the core of our units together it will be an exciting team to watch this fall."

How much do you expect Justin Hickman to play on Saturday?

"Not much. We want him to get some reps but he hasn't practiced in awhile. He did some team reps here today and I know he will want to scrimmage but we will limit him to maybe 10-15 plays but not much. Brigham Harwell did some individual stuff today. We didn't want to take him too far. The whole goal is to get all those guys back here next week to do some stuff for us as we finish up."

Any substitutes stand out?

"You know, the one guy that seems to really be the anchor inside right now is Kenneth Lombard. He's been here at every practice and he plays every position – the nose, the three technique, the weakside and the strongside and does them all well. He's kind of the most valuable player right now because he can do all those things given all the injuries we've had right now. So he's been doing a lot of stuff for us in each and every practice right now and really has gone unnoticed. I would urge that if you guys want to do an article on him, he's really one of the most reliable guys on our defense and has been one of the guys that has really stepped up and had a great spring. "Linebacker-wise, Christian Taylor is showing a lot of leadership and providing a lot of leadership with how he plays too. Chris Horton, Dennis Keyes, Eric McNeal…all those guys have stepped up and done some things. Brian Ruziecki, getting back to the front, he's done some positive things for us. William Snead is quietly having a very solid spring session up to this point. So those guys have done a nice job."

Where's Horton as far as the transition goes to strong safety?

"It's been easy for him. Both safeties are easily trained because they are interchangeable. It's not like going from linebacker to safety. Both free and strong have similar responsibilities so it's really not that big of deal. He's done a nice job just getting himself back playing again. His wrist is casted up pretty good so he has some limitations in terms of flexibility in his wrist but he's out there making some plays, doing what we expect him to do."

Any subtle differences at all?

"He's always been a very good run defender, that's never been a question. He plays the box very well and he's done some good things in the back and has had some interceptions that he was able to get. He's doing some good things and I'm very pleased with where he's at at this point."

Are there any specific questions you're looking to answer with the scrimmage?

"There's nothing really to answer but I'm gauging the team right now. I'm gauging the competitive spirit within the team. It's been very competitive the last couple of weeks, they're jaw to jaw and getting in skirmishes from time to time, which is a good thing. Nothing is really taken personal but it means something to compete against each other and I'm hoping to see good, hard hitting, great playmaking opportunities Saturday and feel good about the progress that we've made to this point."

We have two guest practice reporters from Thursday:

Smilingjeffrey's Practice Report

pacificpal's Practice Report

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