QBs Derek Carr and Jimmy Garappolo looked comfortable enough getting under center after spending most of their college careers in the shotgun formation. More on that, and more than a dozen observations from the first practice of Senior Bowl week.
Looking to prove they could be more than just "spread offense" quarterbacks, Derek Carr of Fresno State and Jimmy Garappolo of Eastern Illinois acclimated well in their first Senior Bowl practice for the South team Monday afternoon in Fairhope Stadium.
Both of the South team's top two quarterbacks are adjusting to life under center instead of taking reps almost exclusively from the shotgun.
They each got the ball out of their hands fairly quickly, with Carr looking more sure of himself and putting in extra time after practice.
But while the quarterbacks passed the first cursory test working with a new system, new teammates and new coaches, their real test will be during live action that practices can't simulate. And there was much more to the South practice than the big names generated by the quarterback position.
Perhaps the best pass rusher in the first day of South action was Arkansas DE Chris Smith. He showed a variety of moves, from a quick spin move to get past his blocker and quickly relocate the quarterback to being able to bull rush a bigger receiver after setting him up with finesse moves. Smith officially checked in at 6-1 1/8 and 266 pounds, but after getting offensive linemen on their heels, he possesses enough strength to get them off balance.
If Smith's strength is a variety of skilled pass-rush moves, then give the speed edge rusher award to DE Dee Ford of Auburn. He regularly showed his burst off the snap and does a great job of lowering his inside shoulder to gain the edge on the offensive lineman and get to the quarterback.
Fresno State TE Marcel Jensen didn't get off to a good start, dropping a Garappolo pass early in practice and having a few other struggles catching the ball early.
Florida State ILB Christian Jones looked comfortable in full-team drills, but he too dropped a pass early individual drills.
Garappolo had one strange sequence when he bobbled the snap and put it on the ground, recovered it and then couldn't hang onto the ball when he cocked to throw.
LSU ILB Lamin Barrow had a solid interception when he dropped into zone coverage, read the eyes of the quarterback and broke on the route perfectly.
BYU ILB Kyle Van Noy looked good in one-on-one work, blanketing his coverage without grabbing. Instead, he had one textbook pass defended.
Georgia Southern RB Jerick McKinnon displayed strong hands when he caught a pass and secured it quickly and strongly as the defender tried unsuccessfully but persistently to rake the ball loose.
Arizona State DT Will Sutton proved he can get low and push, but he also showed that can leave him off balance at times. On another occasion, he displayed a good spin move.
Tennessee DT Dan McCullers can fill up a scale at 6-6 7/8 and 348 pounds, but that height can be a disadvantage inside. At times, he gets too high and loses leverage, but he seemed to improve with coaching as the practice advanced.
California DT DeAndre Coleman got the best of Oklahoma C Gabe Ikard on at least one occasion. Coleman executed a swim move so quickly off the snap that Ikard nearly missed even touching Coleman. On another turn, Coleman was too quick for his own good and lost his balance on his own. He recovered from that turn and later had a great rip move to beat his blocker.
Florida CB Jaylen Watkins struggled with being physical with receivers in press coverage, oftentimes failing to bump them off their routes.
Maybe it was home-state nerves, but Alabama WR Kevin Norwood dropped at least one easy pass right at him.
On one deep route, Oklahoma CB Aaron Colvin kept stride for stride with Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews, who had at least one highlight reel catch later in practice.
Florida G Jon Halapio had a solid practice and showed he could latch onto a pass rusher within the framework of the shoulders and keep him at bay.
Mike Davis short-armed one pass when going across the middle of the field, allowing it to sail beyond him.
Florida State C Bryan Stork showed he can use his leverage well at 6-4.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.