Saturday practice report

It was the third day of practice, a time when the newness of camp has worn off and reality sets in that the grind of camp has begun, and it was also the first day of shells (shoulder pads) which meant some increased contact on the practice field. As you could imagine, the defense stepped up with some inspired play after the offense had pretty much seized the day for the earlier practices.

It didn't take long for the defense to get a few licks either. A 9 on 9 run drill was held on Brian Kennedy Field (all positions except receivers and corners) and it got started with Brian Cushing crashing down hard on Chauncey Washington after a short gain. C.J. Gable put on a little move at the line behind Jeff Byers to help him gain ten yards. On the next play Kyle Williams had Kyle Moore blocked to give Chauncey a hole but Keith Rivers did a nice job of coming over quickly to fill the hole and hold the play to no gain. Keith was very active today. The biggest hit of the drill came when Rey Maualuga drilled Emmanuel Moody at the line, welcome to college ball Emmanuel. Rey worked with the first unit today ahead of Oscar Lua. Allen Bradford made a nice play when he blew past a block attempt from Thomas Herring to take out Gable's legs behind the line of scrimmage for a loss. The next play featured Thomas Williams blowing up a run play for no gain and several players on both sides of the ball started chanting "T-will, T-will, T-will" and Chilo Rachal even began doing his version of the Riverdance. At this point it was clear the energy and spirit of the practice has been raised up a notch with the hitting, these guys are football players and after a couple days of running around on the field they were ready to hit somebody. Taylor Mays got in a shot of his own when Moody took a run to the right, he got held up at the line and Mays came in from the side to deliver a solid blow. Chauncey responded with the best run of the day for the offense, he followed a block from Williams on the right side, shook off a tackle attempt from Alfred Rowe and gained 28 yards before Antwine Perez fought off a stiff-arm and drove him out of bounds. Luthur Brown had a nice hit on Michael Coleman. Stafon Johnson broke free up the middle for 15 and on the final play of the drill Cushing had another big tackle on Chauncey.

Earlier we had watched a pass coverage drill with the linebackers and running backs. The running backs ran a variety of patterns out of the backfield and it was the job of the linebackers to keep up with them. Coach Carroll stayed with this drill for the entire session and both he and Ken Norton were very animated. They were reminding the backers to keep moving their feet, to not get beat deep and that the play is never over until you make the tackle. Keith Rivers did the best of all the backers in terms of staying with his man and Mike Morgan did a pretty good job as well. Later in the practice Mike was seen working with the defensive linemen in their drills so it looks like he will work with both groups. Rivers had one play where he kept up with Moody on an out and up pattern that clearly had the coaches fired up. Dallas Sartz knocked down a pass intended for Brandon Hancock. Stafon Johnson put a move on walk-on Dan Deckas and beat him badly and then later Stafon did a good job to shake Rey Maualuga.

There was a lot of special teams work done today, more than normal. We saw Greg Woidneck continue to take first team punter reps while Troy Van Blarcom and David Buehler alternated with kickoffs. Kevin Thomas blocked a kick attempt.

The team moved to Howard Jones Field for some situational drills. Emmanuel Moody put on an impressive shake move to gain 15 yards. A couple plays later Vincent Joseph left the field with a left ankle and he didn't return to practice. Allen Bradford immediately ran over to the trainers table to check on his fellow freshman. John David Booty rolled right and hit Patrick Turner along the sideline and then he hit Jimmy Miller in the flat with Cary Harris coming up and making an immediate tackle.

The linemen one on one drill got started with Sam Baker absolutely stopping Jeff Schweiger in his tracks. Sedrick Ellis beat Ryan Kalil and that is something that rarely happens. Averell Spicer had a nice rep where he beat Travis Draper. Mike Morgan, who we mentioned got in some work at DE, blew past Charles Brown with a speedy rush and then Charles got his hands on Mike on the next rep to slow him down. Kyle Moore overpowered Thomas Herring with strength and speed. Herring definitely looks better than he has in the past but he still has a ways to go. Right now Thomas is taking all the 2nd team reps at RT behind Kyle Williams. The other reserves on the OL are Malu/Heberer (RG), Draper/Howell (C), Radovich (LG) and Brown (LT). Walker Ashley beat Heberer on his last rep and then the final play of the drill saw Howell do a good job of stopping Butch Lewis.

The team drill, always the final session of the day, got started with Booty hitting Brad Walker in the flat for a short gain. Chauncey did a good job of picking up a blitzing Cary Harris on the next play but the pass went incomplete. Sedrick Ellis knocked down a pass at the line. Kyle Moore and Chris Barrett combined for a sack. Mark Sanchez dropped back and then dumped a pass to Stanley Havili that went for twelve yards. Clay Matthews, who is up to 242 pounds, came on a blitz and forced another incompletion. The offense then showed some signs of life when Sanchez went deep to Dale Thompson, who went up high to make the catch for a 33 yard pick-up against coverage from Allen Bradford. Booty used the tight end again, this time it was Fred Davis and the play went for nine yards. A short pass to Vidal Hazelton in the flat resulted in the biggest hit of the practice as Vidal sort of got hung up and Cushing just came in from the side and leveled him. It was the kind of hit we will see more of from Cushing this year and to Vidal's credit he popped right up with a smile on his face. Gable, who had his best day today, popped through the left side of the line for 15. Ashley knocked down a pass at the line.

Marc Tyler (Oaks Christian RB) and Donovan Warren (LB Poly corner) were among the large crowd in attendance on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.


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