- kind of a ragged day with the added heat & post scrimmage hangover. You could tell CPJ wanted better tempo all around. Lots of high school coaches at practice along with several recruits. QB Synjyn Days, who enrolls in the Fall, was also present.
- Injuries: #2 center Zack Fraysier is on crutches & in a boot after injuring his ankle on Friday. He appears to be done for the spring. OT Phil Smith continues to progress & took part in some non-contact work.
- practice started with the ever popular Oklahoma drill. Fun to watch & the competition was good. Didn't really feel like either offense or defense had the upper hand.
- We continued to show suspect hands in 1 vs. 1 passing skeleton
- 11 vs. 11 was dominated by the defense today as they held the offense in check for the most part. Brad Jefferson continues to excel & seems to be thinking less & playing faster. Gladiator is playing downhill so far. It always takes a few practices before true freshmen are comfortable & the light went on for Isaiah Johnson today. Johnson made several plays throughout practice, the highlight being an open field tackle of Anthony Allen that fired coach Al Groh up enough to bring him charging into the defensive huddle to give Johnson a smack on the helmet. Brandon Watts continued his strong spring play with a tackle for loss. Another player who had a good day was NT T.J. Barnes. Barnes made three tackles on the day & was a force inside. Easily the big man's best practice so far this spring. Tevin Washington must be tired of seeing Jason Peters. After taking a wicked hit from Peters on Friday #92 got to the QB again & lit him up. Offensively the highlight of 11 vs. 11 was a Roddy Jones option pitch that would have likely gone the distance in a game.
- 7 vs. 7 passing skeleton featured a couple good throws from Tevin & Luallen & nice pass breakups from Reese & Jemea Thomas. Both players continue to receive Groh's praise.
- offense ran some one back/ 2 tight end sets to give the defense some practice
- Practice finished with a live 11 vs. 11 red zone scrimmage, ball starting on the 20. On four possessions, the offense scored two TD's (both led by Tevin), made a FG & missed a FG.
So where do we stand a third of the way through Spring Ball? We said before spring practice that you couldn't read too much into things, particularly team performance, but we wanted to focus on individuals & creating a depth chart. To that end we'll break things down by position:
- QB: Tevin has played well & you can see now that as a redshirt sophomore things have begun to slow down for him. While his arm & the passing game need work we still earn our living on the ground & thus his success this spring. Tevin is dangerous with his legs & remains firmly entrenched at #2 behind Nesbitt. Jordan Luallen has progressed this spring & continues to learn the offense & become more comfortable. While I am concerned about the way he runs the ball (too upright, more like a scrambling QB than a RB) his arm brings a different dimension to the team. David Sims has made immense progress from last year (attitude/conditioning/knowledge) and continues to improve. I still think his future is a A-back.
- B-Back: an embarrassment of riches. Five guys (Allen, Lyons, Cox, Watson, & Perkins) who can all play. Allen really hasn't gotten too many touches & if there has been one standout it's been Cox.
- A-Back: we need to display better hands amongst this group but we're in good shape here. Marcus Wright & Orwin Smith will be counted on this season but each is up for the job. Another area of strength.
- WR: a big area of concern. Stephen Hill, who is raw & needs work but has all the physical tools, leads the group but after him it's a big question mark. Melton, Moore, Cone & Sims have all had ups & downs this spring & need to work on getting separation & consistently catching the football. We'll need the A-backs more in the passing game this year.
- Offensive line: depth is an issue & will be into the Fall. The injury to Zach Fraysier means that RS freshman Jay Finch has moved to center & will stay there through the Fall to give us depth. I do see us as more athletic & able to block in space better this season. Not that you need me to tell you this but All-ACC center Sean Bedford is a stud. Man does he fire off the ball.
On defense the transition seems to be going smoothly. The players look to have embraced the 3-4 and are enjoying the change & new challenges. Remember, this is a work in progress & will take time.....
- defensive line: Logan Walls is the clear #1 nose tackle with T.J. Barnes as his backup. I don't see this changing until freshman Shawn Green puts himself in the mix this Fall. Jason Peters has really flourished in the 3-4 & has one end spot locked down. Izaan Cross has played well at the other. We have some depth at DE but NT depth may be an issue.
- LB: Brad Jefferson is really playing well & has stopped thinking & is simply just reacting this year. His size & attitude will make him an All-ACC candidate this year & we'll all be happy watching him play. The other stand out so far is Brandon Watts. Right now Watts is playing inside but I see him at Sam LB eventually, replacing A.T. Barnes. Watts possesses devastating closing speed & is a sure tackler. He'll be a big time contributor this year. You heard it here first. One thing that bums me out is that Barrel favorite Julian Burnett is really a man without a position in the 3-4. We think #40 is a great player but he just doesn't fit what our new defensive staff is looking for. That's a bummer because we really like him as a player......
- CB: Dominique Reese has really benefitted from the move to his natural position of corner. With Reese & Butler we have an unspectacular but steady pair of corners with a solid back-up in Rashad Reid. We're in good shape here.
- Safety: much like B-back we're so deep here. Four legitimate players for two spots. Who wins between Edwards, Taylor, Tarrant & Thomas won't be decided until Fall. Throw in true freshman Isaiah Johnson & you see just how set we are at safety. Just a hunch but remember the name Jemea Thomas.
So that's a wrap on the first 5 practices of spring ball. Lot's more ahead & we'll be interested to see if there are any depth chart changes this week. As always, we'll keep you posted. Feel free to ask if you have a question......