Jay Henry was all over the field on defense, forcing two fumbles and playing with the "hard edge" that head coach Rich Rodriguez has been looking for, especially after Saturday's low-intensity effort. Henry hit tight end Chris Malamet after a reception to force one fumble, the caused another with a sack of quarterback Dwayne Thompson on a blitz. On that play, Henry came free and encountered a linebacker's dream - an unprotected QB with his back exposed. Henry's perfect hit leveled Thompson and caused a turnover. Later in 11 on 11 action, Henry met quarterback Charles Hales as he attmepted to step up into the pocket and recorded another sack.
"Jay's had a good spring," Rodriguez commented. "He's an intelligent guy, and knows all three positions. He's showing this spring that we can count on him."
Offensively, Chris Henry showed the playmaking ability that the offense will rely on in 2004. He made a spectacular one-handed grab of a Charles Hales pass while tiptoeing along the sidelines, and later went up and over defensive back Davanzo Tate for another deep reception.
While those plays were noteworthy, Rodriguez was still not fully pleased with the day's practice, which was conducted in full pads.
"If they stretched right today they would have been better than Saturday," the coach noted, who expressed more disgust over the lackluster scrimmage. "The intensity was better, but the execution isn't what it needs to be, especially from veterans. I saw a lack of execution from some veterans on offense.
"The pass protection was awful today. The quarterbacks are probably all going to be in the training room very shortly after all the hits they took. I might have to rethink going live on the QBs if the pass protection doesn't improve."
The offensive line stayed after practice for some extra work as a result of the poor pass protection.
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The injury situation, as it usually does this time of spring, had both good and bad items. Running backs Kay Jay Harris and Bryan Wright both moved up to green jerseys and participated in some non-contact drills. However, Jason Colson again was sidelined after starting practice, this time with a leg injury after getting smacked in a pileup. Also missing time during the day were Milo Austin (right arm), Adam Bednarik (shoulder), Thandi Smith (hand/wrist) and Joe Hunter (leg).
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Dwayne Mundle, again stepping in at superback, broke away for a 40-yard gain during inside run drills.
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The passing game was improved from Saturday. In spite of some good coverage and a strong pass rush (caused as much by poor offensive line play as from defensive prowess, according to Rodriguez), several receivers made good plays. During work on play action passes, Brandon Myles hauled in a deep ball from Hales, and Rayshawn Bolden took a bubble screen for a 45-yard gain.
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Partly due to the defensive pressure, the quarterbacks had the opportunity to scramble with the ball, and they did well. Rasheed Marshall again displayed his improved speed by rolling out and sprinting 15 yards for a first down.
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Among the onlookers at today's practice were Mike Puskar, Ed Pastilong, Danny Buggs and Grant Wiley. Wiley spent part of his time tossing 30- and 40-yard perfect spirals.
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Linebacker Alex Lake was again missing from practice.