As expected, San Bernardino was roasting yesterday and it took its toll on the players. With temperatures easily over 100 degrees and the players in shoulder pads for the first time, the players struggled. At least six players had to come off the field for heat-related reasons in the heat and as a result, today's practice has been pushed back to 4 pm PT.
No unit struggled more with the heat than the offensive line, which is to be expected considering their size. The heat has to take a greater toll on the big guys and it did.
"I look at it like if my guys can take it and want to get better and do whatever it takes to get mentally tough and physically tough then we’ll go through it," Adrian Klemm said. "If I see guys kind of struggling and not performing to their abilities because of the conditions, then I’ll change things. I personally think it’s tough, but it’s not unbearable."
Whether through heat, up-downs or whatever, Klemm is going to have to figure out a way to get that offensive line going. It's no secret that the unit is the weak link in the offense and maybe on the entire team, but nobody is going to take it easy on them. Noel Mazzone's scheme, any different play calling and the array of talent in the backfield and at receiver won't mean a thing if the offensive line gets overrun. Stay safe in the heat, boys, but figure it out.
Just like it was the first day for pads, it was also the first day for special teams. The coaches aren't even close to finding their punt returners, but they got to work on trying to find one as Shaquelle Evans, Jordon James, Steven Manfro and Fabian Moreau all got shots in practice. Whoever wins the job, it would be nice to have a threat in the return game for the first time in years. Of course not fumbling the ball is paramount, but there has to be a guy who can catch, not fumble and be a threat in the return game and if there isn't then the program is more of a mess than we thought.
More important than finding a returner will be getting some stability back at kicker. After years of great, All-American worthy kickers, we began to take for granted the security of a great kicker ... and then last year happened. It was a complete mess and Kip Smith was asked to look elsewhere as a result. Enter Ka'imi Faibairn, who got his first crack at the kicking job yesterday.
For the first time we saw Ka'imi Faibairn take extra points and field goals with Locke holding. Faibairn missed the first attempt hitting the right post. His second attempt was good just inside the right post. He converted a 27-yard field goal inside the left post and went up the middle on his next attempt, both from the left hash mark. Faibairn then attempted from 37 yards on the right hash and converted. The ball moved to the 42 yard line from the left hash but the kick was way low.
Yesterday was Faibairn's first time kicking at practice so some nerves were to be expected. Hopefully his struggles were nerves and just that and he can can right the ship going forward. He doesn't need to be good on August 6th, but he has to build the trust of his coaches and teammates over the next few weeks or the Bruins could be looking at a replay of last year's nightmare.
Another note from Melendez was a positive one as Taylor Legace made an impact yesterday. The Bruins are thin at safety, with Tevin McDonald the only known quantity at the position and if Legace, or anyone else really, can step up and claim a spot then the defense gets that much better.
Taylor Lagace is not backing down. The true freshman who on Sunday earned high praise from Mora, continues to bring his tough-as-nails approach at safety. First it was Jake Brendel giving Lagace a good push well after one play and then Lagace's helmet came flying off after Ben Wysocki took issue with his follow through after tackling Johnathan Franklin, this after Lagace recovered a Malcolm Jones fumble on a previous play. Lagace has good instincts and burst of speed that can get him to the ball from virtually any point of the field.
From the bad news category, Sam Tai tore his ACL and will miss the season. Best of luck to him in his recovery and hopefully gets back soon. In the meantime, good luck to the rest of the guys in camp. Stay safe in the heat and get ready, the season is right around the corner.