For the first time in over a month I attended Trojan football practice. You can see things at practice that you can't at games and I always enjoy it. The most remarkable difference I noticed today from previous years is that this team and coaches seem to be having more fun. The hitting is hard and the "in your face" reprimands for mistakes are loud and unforgiving, but the players seem to like practice and the coaches frequently have smiles. I guess winning helps do that.
Today was special and that is why I went. The Halloween Bowl was a concept of Pete's to provide an opportunity for squad members who don't usually play in games to knock heads and compete. I know the players looked forward to this because I met so many family members of redshirts and walk-ons along the sidelines. Obviously it was looked upon by them as a chance to see their son's play football and not just another practice.
The first half of practice was the usual conditioning and drills. This was followed by work on special teams and then the first offense and defense squared off for several plays. Every body looked good but there is only so much you can see from field level. What I could see was that Carson hit every receiver he threw to today.
Then they had the Halloween Bowl. The players who see little or no action during games divided into offensive and defensive teams. The offense was alternately quarterbacked by Morgan Craig of Newport Beach and Nick Vanderboom of Medina, MN. Even though execution was spotty you can see that these players do have talent. Today I would say that Craig had the best day. All the quarterbacks wear gold jerseys, which means that you are not suppose to tackle them. On a couple of scrambles, Craig just lowered his head and took on the defense regardless of wearing a gold jersey. He obviously misses the competition and contact.
As you might expect the players that stood out the most were scholarship players. On offense, David Kirtman had several good runs. Chris McFoy made a couple of good catches. And the line showed well on several plays. Chris Doyle was banged up on the first play and left the field limping. I have no report on the injury except to say that he walked off. The OL was (left to right): Justin Brown, John Lanza, Kurt Katnik, Travis Watkins (in for Doyle), and Kyle Williams. There were other substitutions along the line from time to time.
The DL that started looked like: Jay Bottom, Travis Tofi, Nate Steinbacher and LaJuan Ramsey. Several others played as well and several played more than one position. I could not see who was making the most of the tackles. But there were a few big hits behind the line of scrimmage by an outside linebacker that were easy to identify because they were in the open field. They came from Frostee Rucker who is big and hits like a truck.
I left with a couple of impressions. First we have talent in the pipe with good players red shirting and backups who are not yet seeing much playing time. Second, these players and especially the walk-ons love the game and when given a chance, they play hard. I think Pete had a good idea.