Here are some notes/thoughts from Monday afternoon's practice:
- There were no major changes in the two-deep in the afternoon session with the exception of Jeff Mack's return after missing Monday morning with a class. He returned to his starting Mike linebacker position, which was assumed by true freshman Mark Zalewski in the morning.
- Lee Evans was in uniform and went through position drills after missing the morning practice (as scheduled) for rehab.
- Jim Leonhard had a really strong practice, with a couple of pass breakups. Leonhard is still working with the No. 1 defense and he's going to be difficult to unseat from the starting spot.
- Brooks Bollinger has looked really sharp throughout the entire camp, as expected. As we mentioned repeatedly last spring, he was throwing the ball better than perhaps ever before, and that has continued this fall. Jim Sorgi has also looked really strong throwing the ball.
- Jonathan Clinkscale plowed through a couple of defensive linemen during Monday afternoon's practice. He has consistently improved, winning the job midway through last season and never looking back.
- Here is the first of a series of Q&A's with players throughout fall camp. True freshman linebacker Elliott Goode talked about adjusting to his first exposure to college football:
Q: How has everything gone for you so far?
Goode: It can get hard at times with the speed of the game and trying to read the plays. But I feel that I'm progressively getting better. Maybe not giant steps, but I am slowly progressing. I can't guarantee when I will play but I'm going to try.
Q: When it was learned that Reggie Cribbs was going to miss fall camp and will likely be redshirted, your name quickly surfaced as a guy the coaching staff was going to look at for playing time at linebacker. Was that exciting for you, or was it kind of scary and nerve-wrecking that the expectations were going to be set that high?
Goode: Kind of both. You're trying to impress the coaches and you want to play. Off the get go, it was kind a shocker for me, because I wasn't quite sure of my situation, that I was playing outside linebacker.
Q: A lot of players say the biggest problem they have initially is learning where to line up. Has that been a major issue for you?
Goode: The hardest thing for me probably wouldn't be lining up, but reading your keys because of the speed of everybody is so fast and so constant. You're looking left and right, and you're trying to process so quickly that it can get hard at times and frustrating at some points.
Q: Is it even more difficult when you are going against one of the top offenses in the country every day? Or is it just a matter of adjusting to college football itself?
Goode: Probably both. We're going up against such a great offense, but that's a great opportunity for us too as a defense. But the speed of football in college is a huge step ahead of high school. Probably both of those account for it.
Q: How are you doing adjusting to life away from home for the first time?
Goode: I was here over the summer. For the first couple of days man, you're so far away you get homesick. You're sitting there calling home. You just have to get out. You have to start talking to players, because some of them are feeling the same way you do, and you can sort of relate to them. Other than that, just hanging out with them and kick it. They're pretty cool. Right now I've sort of got past that phase.
Q: Have you made a lot of friends on the team so far?
Goode: I'd say right now we're a really close-knit team already. A week into camp, and we're really close already.
Q: Have the older linebackers made it a point to help you out and show you the ropes?
Goode: Yes. Here and there when you're doing plays and you mess up, a coach will let you know what you did wrong, and a player will help you sort of process it like he would. So you get help from both sides, it's kind of good.
Q: Is there anybody in particular that has been really hard to defend or has really impressed you with their ability?
Goode: Probably the offensive line. They're big and they can move. When kids are that big in high school, they are a little slower. But they can move here. That's kind of impressive. Other than that, how their running backs hit the holes is good too. The offense has been doing really well against it.
Q: Are you hoping to see somewhat of a rotation in the linebacking corps, similar to how they rotate the defensive line here?
Goode: I'm shooting to play. It doesn't matter if I get two plays this year or not. Just to play in the Big Ten as a true freshman would make me feel good. That would say something.
Q: Are you on a lot of special teams units?
Goode: I know (Coach Brian Murphy) has me on punt (team) so far, then I'm third/fourth string on some of the others – we really haven't gone through all the special teams. We've gone through PAT, PAT-block, I'm not on any of those…punt (team), I'm second string as of today. Punt return I'm not on, and we haven't put the rest of the stuff in yet.
Monday Afternoon Practice Report
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