Bumped. Yet another incredibly informative post on practice. Keep it coming guys. Today's practice starts at 3 pm PST. GO BRUINS. -N
Let me start by saying I missed the first hour of practice, which consisted of the first team unit, primarily. As such, I don't have a whole lot of commentary about them. However, I think the easiest thing to do is talk about who made the biggest impression and devolve into random thoughts:
- Ricky Marvray. I don't want to be 'that guy,' but I think I wrote on this board last year and in spring that he was going to be a presence to deal with. He is. Ricky was the most consistent receiver on the field that I saw yesterday. He maybe had one dropped pass, where the pass wasn't ideal....but other than that, dude makes plays. He is like a smaller Taylor Embree....but because he is more compact, he is quicker (versus Taylor's long strides). I am pretty sure at this point that he's in the top three receiver rotation...if not, then by mid-season I think he will be. More after the break....
- Malcolm Jones. Didn't see him get a ton of touches, but he had the prettiest TD run of the day. Obviously no pads, so he may have been taken down at some point during the run, but what got the crowd excited were his feet during the run. It's hard to explain but watch his feet in the video below. He just seems shifty...which is even more impressive considering his size. He is also a competitor. There was one option where he didn't get the ball, but managed to squirt through this crazy small hole and he was visibly frustrated. In all reality, the QB probably made the right choice by holding onto the ball (I was surprised to see Malcolm pop through), but it was exciting to see him make something out of seemingly nothing. I hope the QB's learn to trust his abilities in this respect.
- Aaron Hester. He had a nice pick on a poorly thrown
Darius Bell Nick Crissman pass. Again, I've liked this dude since last spring and I think we'll all be pleasantly surprised by his game. The guy next to me rightfully pointed out that he seems to be a 'footbal junky.' Even after the first practice, he was on the field, running with Sheldon Price, loitering on the field, and doing some LOS drills. Maybe not Alterraun Verner the senior, but probably as good or better than Alterraun Verner the Freshman.
- Darius Bell. Shifty QB who'll probably be able to scramble to get himself the time he needs to throw, but an overall unimpressive day. I am fully cognizant that this was his third day of practice, so I'm not worried at all...but he got picked a couple of times and not a whole lot of deep balls. The kid can run, but at this point, I think Brehaut is the more polished (or more experienced in this scheme). But I think he has a solid foundation upon which to improve.
- Kip Smith. Kid can punt, but has a long ways to go on the FG front. Overall, our punters were booming the ball with great hang time. However, the FG's were less than impressive (didn't see Kai). I think I saw the young kickers make 2 out of 4 FG's, but the two were like slicing kicks that could've gone either way...as one of the misses did. But again, our punting was pretty good, for the most part and I don't think we'll see any drop off in that aspect of our game. Locke had two punts downed inside the 10 yard line. Also, a new kid, Joe Roberts....must be a walk-on.....just thought I'd mention it since I'd never heard of him before.
- Damien Thigpen: The Thigpen experiment on D continues and it didn't look like a natural fit for him. His quickness generally makes up for his lack of familiarity at the CB position, but he doesn't look ready for prime time at the position. Going to be interesting to see where he ends up. Looks like the F-back is going to be filled with big, 'tweener' guys like Presley and Barr....WR is pretty well locked up through the first four (Smith, Rosario, Embree & Marvray). So.....?
- Pat Larimore. Man, the kid looks the part of MLB, but my untrained impression was that he didn't look quite ready from the 'defensive director' standpoint. Guy is big, though....no doubt. If/when he gets comfortable as the leader of the defense, he's definitely a guy we want in the middle....but, based on this one practice, I'm thinking the position is still up for grabs. Also, I see what CRN was talking about in having to reign him in. He threw a helmet shove/punch at Greg Capella that started a little fracas. I like the attitude, but would rather see it against other teams.
- Freshmen. Overall, the freshmen definitely impress from a physical standpoint. Tevin McDonald has the size to play right now, as does Wesley Flowers and Owa. Anthony Jefferson made a nice pick, but then followed it up by a blatant pass interference when he mis-timed a pass. Dietrich Riley looks big enough to play SS right now, although he is not as cut as the other players. Malcolm Jones...as noted, impressed on his runs, but is similarly built pretty well. He'll be able to take and give a lot of punishment. Jordan James reminds me of Knox in his physique. He fumbled once after a hit from Wesley Flowers. Cassius Marsh has good size for the DL, but legs are a little skinny and he will likely need to turn some weight into muscle. Zumwalt has a solid frame to begin adding weight to, but not cut at this point. I think he's a RS this year.
- Owa is built and muscularly defined. He's going to be good, no doubt. Right now, what I saw on the few plays I remember is that it looks like he is so used to driving back the OL, that he's trying to do that here...but the linemen are a bit stronger/skilled and he didn't get the penetration I'm sure he's used to getting....actually, he looked like an offensive lineman off the snap by going straight up against his man versus trying to fly by him....
- Aramide Olanyan. Kid has good size and is cut...but probably needs to put on some weight. Didn't see him much other than in drills. But again, the size of the recruits is seemingly good....
- Cassius Marsh. Guy is big and pretty quick. There was this one weird play where he jumped past Jeff Baca (ala Brian Price) and got into the backfield so quickly, that he was able to strip the ball out of the RB's hands, and pick it up and run it back for what looked like it would've been a TD. Not bad for the third day of practice.
- Anthony Barr. Not as thick as I thought he was going to be. He is so tall that his look is almost skinny....but make no mistake, he is going to be a factor for us. More generally, I really like how the coaches use him and Presley in the F-Back position. I think the thing to watch, when the time comes, is when they get sent in motion and the blocks they are able to throw with a running head start. Which is the reason why I think Thigpen isn't necessarily going to fit into this position...it's almost like a 'running start TE' position, as I see the coaches using it...I like it...especially for a guy like Presley who seems to like to block and hit.
- Dalton Hilliard gives up some height, but he put a pretty good smack on Erik Kendricks on a PR drill...
- Overall. I was obviously excited to be watching football again so, my positive take could be skewed somewhat by that overarching feeling...but I didn't come away AS pessimistic as I did during Spring Ball. There were plays being made for a change. Passes completed, holes opened and running TD's. I thought the period during special teams had a lot more standing around than you'd expect, but I'm not a coach and don't know the rules, especially with these split practices. But, Malcolm Jones' run was definitely exciting, as was seeing him make it through a non-existent hole, even if he didn't have the ball.
And here's a video with highlights: