Now that's out of the way some introduction and notes. First off, let me say that by no means am I an expert on evaluating players, their talent, skill, etc., but I do love football so um, take that.
That is Nigel Bradham up there and yes, he is a monster. Walking under the stadium to my seat, I had the opportunity to get up close to him and some other players. The strength and conditioning program is working. Unfortunately after watching some athletic freaks walk by me in the tunnel, Tavares Pressley and Moses McCray walked toward the field, both using canes as support. I feel bad for Pressley. I of course don't know the extent of his injuries, but his face told the story. It looked like someone kicked his soul repeatedly.
Now onto some more pics and notes as promised... a lot more...
K-Man notes: Here's a look at 'repeatedly soul kicked' Tavares Pressley. Intentional or not, Tavares does a great impression of an old grandpa using a cane.
First up the QB's.
It is funny to note that when Ponder messes things up he just gets a shake of the head from Coach Fisher. When reminding a different QB about the correct technique, say Will Secord, he is shall we say, more verbal. Secord was 'reminded' many, many times.
YOU KNOW THIS ONE
EJ Working a Drill
QB's were fun to watch. I will say there is a clear drop off from Ponder and EJ and the rest of the new guys. But of course, that should be expected. Not saying Secord and Trickett looked horrible but my goodness Ponder wowed me with each zip he threw in warm-ups. The new guys looked OK but obviously need more development. It doesn't help when the competition you are compared to is EJ and Ponder (maybe it does in the long run).
There is no need to worry about EJ's recovery from surgery. He now has a cannon almost matching Ponder's. There was no unnecessary air in his passes that needed velocity. Looked great from what I saw (unfortunately didn't see a ton of EJ for whatever reason. He practiced as much as everyone, blame it on me.)
Next up RBs
Thompson with the O-line
I originally thought that the Thompson move to the first string was just a tactic to motivate the other running backs, specifically Thomas. After this practice, I think it is undoubtedly clear that he has earned the spot. His burst is unbelievably quick. He is tiny but is an absolute ball of muscle as you can see from the pic. I really like the shot of him standing with the Oline. My buddy said that he reminded him of Jacquizz Rodgers for Oregan State. If you aren't familiar with him he is a slight in stature but fantastic RB for the Beavers. He literrally gets lost behind a big oline and as a defender, by the time you see what hole he is coming out of, it is already too late. Very excited about Thompson this year.
Thomas and Reed
Thomas Takes the Ball
Jermaine looked fine out there but almost like he has lost weight. Took a shot of him next to Bert for comparison. Don't get me wrong he still looked good out there and worked hard. But I think it is a legit race for the top few spots at RB. Debrale is big. Seriously. Pryor looked good from what I saw. Sorry, didn't pay a ton of attention to them (there is so much going on at once).
Moving onto WR
Other sites might tell you how well the young guys did catching. And they did make some good plays. But I'm here to tell you, they dropped balls. A lot of them. Bounce off their hands, bounce off their chests. Drop. Drop. Drop. They need work. But again this is to be expected. They weren't yelled at for just drops but also routes.They are going through what I would imagine are usual freshman growing pains.
Physically, as you can tell, Green looks ready to step on the field. Haggins dropped A LOT of balls to start off practice but had a great one later in practice in the end zone. The catch of the day (that I could see) was one that Bert reeled in with one hand running toward the sideline just before Lamarcus Joyner could get there to break up the play. Joyner was not happy and Bert, being Bert, let everyone know he was happy.
I'm by no means advocating for any of these players to get playing time over anyone else. Because honestly, I'm not knowledgeable enough to know who should play more. But if there is one player that I might go out on a limb for, it is Josh Gehres. He caught EVERY SINGLE ball that I happened to see thrown his way. He had sticky glue on his hands. He reeled a very difficult pass in on the sideline over the shoulder while dealing with excellent coverage. Again my knowledge is limited but he made an impression. Next to Bert Reed he was the next most dependable reciever.
Haulstead and Smith. Big. Physical. Need work. That is basically how I would sum up their performance during practice. Need work with routes, timing, and catching. Hope they learn fast.
Reliford is clearly out in front as the best here. Will Tye is impressive in stature and I think he will make a fantastic tight end but has a lot of learning to do. Not very fluid in routes but is big and still has quicks. Looks a lot bigger than the 230 that he is listed at. Little looks, well, little and unimpressive.
Reliford got one of the funniest verbal abuses from Coach Fisher all day. Reliford settles down low for a quick pass and reaches out with one hand and spins catching the ball. Got some claps from the fans. But, he had messed up. He wasn't in the right place and Fisher let him have it.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?!?!?! WHERE YOU AT, LOOK AT WHERE YOU'RE AT, LOUD NOISES, ANGRY TONE, DO IT RIGHT ETC. But hey nice catch." Oh man. Funny stuff.
Now, the hardest working group on the team. OLINE!!!!!!!!!!!
I think Trickett would suit up and do it himself...
The OLine. They are good. The end.
Now onto some Defense. A lot of the defensive workouts took place on the other side of the 50 from me but I managed to make a few observations and catch some great plays.
White smiling about something.
During 11 v 11's the Dline was able to generate substantial pressure. On the picture above Ponder was not able to get the ball out of his hand in time. Too early to say but they looked...better. Seriously. Really hope Moses only caught a tweak. Guess we will find out soon enough.
Reading the play
Don't see How these guys can't be the strength of the defense. Seem to be picking up on the zones well and liking it. Christian Jones is for real. So is Luc of course. Holmes Onwukaife looks to have put on some great weight. I wonder if he forgoes the red shirt and plays special teams. I I remember him saying he wanted a red shirt as he is so young but we'll see.
Parks and Reid Run to the Ball
Harris Gets Beat
Although Harris is pictured above letting a catch get passed him, he did a great job from a corner zone and jumped a sideline route for a great pic.
Joyner. He likes to HIT. Hard. It is like he focuses his entire body on a single point of an opponent and unleashes. He and Bert had a great collision. Granted they aren't exactly heavy weights but it made a solid pop, and of course followed by some talking. Speaking of Reed, Joyner redeemed himself against Bert by sitting in his zone, then running with Bert stride for stride blanketing him down the sideline. This time around it was Bert that was not happy.
K-Man Notes: the play Onebarrelrum describes above. Nothing spectacular in this video, just a glimpse of Frankenstein's long arms and physical nature. I panned over to the loud voice of Greg Reid, who is the Bert Reed of the defense (vocal).
The top pic is of Rhodes getting a great pick (no idea I even captured it until I got home). Speaking of Rhodes he drew the worst verbal tirade it seemed from Fisher the entire practice. Not exactly sure what he did but I suspect he got in trouble for making too big of a tackle. Seriously. He wrapped a guy up then proceeded to take him down and kind of flip him hard to the ground. Fisher went nuts as there is a policy not to take players to the ground when the team is in shoulder pads and not full gear. Meaning: don't do anything to hurt other players. Hit, get hit, but there is no need to break a guys knees. Rhodes kept his composure, went out and made a great play later in practice.
K-Man Notes: Here's the play in question. You can hear Fisher yell, "I said get your ass over here!"
Some Final Thoughts:
Sorry I didn't get everyone. There is literally a whirlwind of activity. I didn't get everyone I was hoping to myself. There is just so much going on it is hard to keep up. No wonder why FIsher says, "Not sure I'll have to look at the tape," when he is asked about specific players or plays right after practice.
Greg Reid and Bert Reed seem to be competing for, let's call it, most talkative, on the team. You can hear Greg hooping it up from across the entire field when he sees his defensive teammates make a good play.
K-Man Notes: One final video. Greg Reid covers Bert Reed on a deep route, then comes back to scoop up an interception off a deflected pass. You can hear Rodney Smith yelling for a flag (deservedly so). Fierce battle between Jenkins and Datko on the left side of the line.
Things got a bit chippy a couple times. One fumble led to a bit of a tussle and players had to be separated by coaches. But hey, that is what being competitive is all about I guess.
One of the things that struck me early on was the amount of coaches and staff on the field the entire time. Was a great thing to see.
Our coaches do NOT baby these kids in any way shape or form. It is hard love. Take the criticism or leave.
The weather cooperated wonderfully. It was hot. But for the fans there was a decent breeze moving through the stadium that kept us from becoming human marshmallows. However it wasn't enought to keep one player from vomiting.. A lot. Had to sit out the last period.
K-Man Notes: That player was Willie Haulstead. National Geographic will soon be knocking on my door, trying to throw accolades at my "Reverse Powerade Comsumption" photograph.
That is all I can think of right now. If I come up with any more I'll probably add it in the comments section. I took all the photos so feel free to use them as you wish. Were you there? See something I missed? Off on some of my assessments? Feel free to let me know. GO NOLES!
Seriously, "Hide your wife, hide your kids...."