[Ed-M: Bumped because this is all important stuff. Photos: MGoBlue.com: all from March 30 practice. Click through to see, among other things, Urban Meyer on the sidelines.]
I want to start by wishing a Happy Birthday to Bo. Born this day in 1929.
I attended practice yesterday and here are some very random notes and observations.
I gravitate to the LBs because that's what I coach and I try to pick up new drills/techniques. Here are the 11 guys who were working with the LB corp: Cam Gordon, Brandin Hawthorne, Marell Evans, Kenny Demens, Isaiah Bell, Mike Jones, Jake Ryan, JB Fitzgerald, Paul Gyarmati, Brandon Herron, Jordan Paskorz. They were running a lot of basic drills because, quite frankly, this group has a LOT of work ahead of them.
- Cam Gordon is ALL of 6' 3". He's gotten taller since he was a senior in HS (I know because I stood next to him at a spring practice last year and I was definitely taller than him). He looks good, physically. He's added a significant amount of muscle and has real good pop. During one particular drill where the LB shuffles downhill then forms up on the "ballcarrier," Cam surprised the ballcarrier with an explosive pop. It was either Bell or Demens. Whoever it was felt it, I can promise you that.
- Josh Furman has sweet dreads. He's a good sized kid too and got a lot of reps
- Marell Evans got a lot of reps with the ones during the scrimmage. He seems very comfortable with his teammates and coaches.
- Jake Ryan's helmet is chipped all to hell, which tells me he keeps his head up at the point of contact and has a nose [Ed-M: Or more accurately forehead] for the ball. I thought Cam looked taller but they're both listed at 6'3" on the roster.
During the scrimmages, the defense moved around a lot, displaying multiple looks. Although they were running a 4-3, Mike Martin was lined up over the center (or shaded) most of the time.
Big Will and Q got a lot of reps (with the 1s and 2s). I think Will probably gets more coaching than any kid on the team. It appears to me that the coaches REALLY believe they have something special in Will if they can just coach him up and bring it out of him. He is a big kid with a lot of potential and could be scary good if he makes up his mind and puts in the work. BTW, Will talks a lot of shit. On one play, he pursued Devin to the sideline and out of bounds, gave him some lip, then smacked the ball out of Devin's hands. It was all in good fun and I think it shows that Big Will is feeling like he's an integral part of this team. BW is big but QW isn't far behind. These two have a chance to make a huge impact, if they simply learn to work hard and realize what they can achieve.
Curt Mallory is by far the most intense person on the entire field. He is working hard with the DBs.
It's obvious both sides of the ball are learning new schemes. Lots of mistakes and miscues. However, the intensity is there. Ryan Van Bergen is your vocal leader of the defense.
Here are the DBs I noticed getting lots of reps: Courtney Avery, Jordan Kovacs, Thomas Gordon, Floyd Simmons, Cullen Christian, Jared VanSlyke, Greg Brown, Marvin Robinson, Tony Anderson, and Al Backey.
- During one scrimmage, Jordan Kovacs dropped the hammer on an outstretched Je'Ron Stokes. It was a BIG lick, but Stokes held onto the ball and popped right up.
- Courtney Avery ran with the 1s all the time. He looks good although I think 5'11" is generous. I talked with his dad (Courtney Sr) for a while. Super nice family (mom and younger brother were there too). He said everything is completely different for Courtney and it's like starting over: Terminology, technique, alignment, philosophy, scheme.
- Cullen Christian has sweet tats on the back of both arms. Written in old english font with a 2 and C on the left arm and 4 and C on the right. (That's some Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporting, isn't it?)
- Speaking of tats, it's one thing I noticed we have a LOT of. There's some sweet artwork out there.
- Woolfolk and Floyd were off in the corner with a S&C coach, working their asses off. The coach had one of those punching dummies that the two players would take turns delivering two handed shivers in rapid succession.
Here's something I'm sure you'll all be fired up about: the 1st team D owned the first team O in Red Zone scrimmage. Three times in a row the D stuffed the O, including a 1st and goal from the 2 which resulted in a fumble, recovered by Herron. The defense was noticably more vocal than the O, but I don't think that means anything other than the O is doing a lot more thinking, rather than just playing.
It was quite evident that this was the first week of practice under a new system. On the other hand, the 2nd team O scored in one play (both passes to the right side) TWICE against the 2nd team D.
Offensively, Rocko Khoury was the center during the scrimmages, but Molk participated in the conditioning. I don't recall seeing Molk out on the field, but maybe I just overlooked him (shame on me).
Your first O line was (from left to right) Huyge, Barnum, Khoury, Omameh, Schofield. Lewan wasn't in pads. Second O line was Barnum, Khoury, Burzynski, Pace, Gunderson.
Every time I looked up, it seemed Drew Dileo was retunring a punt or kick. There was a decent amount of time devoted to special teams at the begining and end of practice, which I thought was, you know....... important (lol). Both kickers were lined up on opposite hashes (Seth on the right hash, Brendan on the left), starting with 27 yard kicks then moving back to 35 yarders. I will leave you with this....... they need more practice.
I didn't watch the offense all that much as I was trying to concentrate on what the defense was doing and who was on the field. However Denard is sweet. His smile and personality resonate from across the field. I honestly feel like we have been blessed, not with just a hell of an athlete, but a hell of a kid. That is all.
Finally, I had a chance to talk with Coach Jerry Hanlon for a bit. I haven't seen him in a LONG time, but he looks and sounds great. I'm surprised he still has a voice because he did a LOT of yelling back in the day. I remember one spring practice, for some reason, Coach Hanlon decided to coach from the press box, which was really odd. Nobody ever did that.. Anyway, we were going through a scrimmage or inside skele and all of the sudden, from WAAaaaay on high, this high-pitched, angry voice bellowed down from above. It brought practice to a screeching halt as everyone stopped what they were doing so they could take in the ass chewing Coach Hanlon's dished out to some poor linemen from 100 feet in the air. I guess you had to be there, but it was memorable.