We were fortunate enough to have a couple hours of free time & wander down to Rose Bowl field to catch the first spring practice of the season. A crowd of around 30-40 folks, including many media types, watched as the Jackets went through drills in shells (helmets & shoulder pads) for two hours in a brisk wind. Our observations:
- Injuries/attendance: Austin Barrick was not at practice due to a class conflict. Nesbitt was there with a boot on his left ankle. Kyle Jackson is in red & doesn't have a boot on. Ben Anderson & Robert Hall were both in red, as was Chris Jackson. Phil Smith was in yellow & jogging on the side.
- Tevin Washington ran with the first team while Luallen & Sims split 2nd team snaps, as we expected. Washington looked fine but his arm strength, while improved, is questionable. Luallen certainly has a strong arm but continues to run upright. We'll see what happens when they begin to hit. David Sims looks in much better shape than last season and has most certainly revamped his throwing motion. It was diificult at times for all three QB's throwing the football due to gusting winds. Maybe it's me but we did seem to work a lot on throwing the football. There were several fumbled exchanges & the ball did spend far too much time on the ground but that's to be expected in our first practice. All three QB's had their moments, both good & bad. They will need to make faster decisions in the passing game & coach Bohannon was emphatic about this; they simply can't hold the ball too long.
- Offensive depth chart: (Parenthesis indicate 2nd team)
WR - Hill (Moore)
TACKLE - Claytor (Foster)
GUARD - McRae (Beno)
CENTER- Bedford (Finch)
GUARD - Uzzi (Jackson)
TACKLE - Krish (Johnson)
WR- Melton (Sims/Cone)
A-BACK - Jones (Wright/Paige)
QB- Washington (Luallen/Sims)
B-BACK- Allen (Watson/Perkins)
A-BACK- Peeples (Smith/Godhigh)
*note Phil Smith & Barrick were absent. We expect a battle between Claytor & Barrick at one tackle spot while Smith should take over for Krish when he's healthy....
- Charles Perkins, while a bit light for the position at this point, is a B-back. Perkins stood out to us as his acceleration is just tremendous; he reaches top speed in three steps and runs very aggressively. At first glance the future for Perkins is sooner rather than later & he has a chance to be a very good one....
- Stephen Hill impressed with good hands & body control. He's clearly our #1 WR.
- Orwin Smith & Robbie Godhigh ran as an A-back tandem through most of practice & both looked good.
- Offensive highlight of the day was a great over the shoulder catch by Tyler Melton from David Sims in 1 vs. 1 drills.
- Yes this happened:
We ran multiple snaps from a shotgun in 1 vs. 1 passing drills & in 7 vs. 7. The QB's & centers seemed comfortable with it. It's a no-no to discuss formations in depth but let's just say it's a run & shoot look with an off-set B-back. If you have specific questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org & I'll answer them privately so as not to risk practice closing.
- Defensively the tone was aggressive with lots of focus on teaching & fundamentals. All the coaches, including coach Groh, were very vocal & spent lots of time going over fundamental principles such as positioning, angles, etc....Groh might be 65 but he certainly doesn't act it, displaying great energy & enthusiasm on the football field. The players also obviously respect him.....
- Defensive depth chart:
DE: Cross (Dieke)
NT: Walls (Barnes)
DE: Peters (Cummings)
JACK LB: Egbuniwe (Tongo)
ILB: Sylvester (Burnett/Machen)
ILB: Jefferson (Watts)
OLB: A.T. Barnes (Rocker)
CORNER: Butler (Reid)
SAFETY: Tarrant (Taylor)
SAFETY: Edwards (Thomas)
CORNER: Reese (Peterson)
- It's notable that Domenique Reese & Jerrard Tarrant have flip-flopped positions; Reese to corner & Tarrant to safety. This makes sense to us as Reese has good hips & Tarrant always appeared stiff to us at corner.
- It's pretty hard to tell anything about the defense with no pads involved. Once they strap them on, we'll know more.....
- Defensive play of the day was in 7 vs. 7 when Mario Edwards made a leaping interception which really fired up his teammates.
- The defense was very vocal & energetic on the day. The new opportunities under coach Groh seems to have given them new life....
If you have any questions leave them in the comments section & I'll do my best to answer them....Hope to see you at practice Wednesday.....