The fields were drenched today from a downpour that started slow and picked up throughout practice, though you couldn't say the same thing about the energy inside the indoor practice facility. The players and coaches were fully animated all morning and it seems the energy has carried over following a 30-33 win over the Syracuse Orange last Saturday.
A few players stood out but in my opinion, wide receiver Darion Williamson was the player of the day. He was constantly making plays, like a 25-yard bomb from quarterback Chubba Purdy leaping over Travis Jay for a contested-catch in 11-on-11 from the 50.
Purdy has made noticeable improvements throughout the season and this was one of his better practices.
Veteran wide receiver Keyshawn Helton made a nice leaping catch, fully extended into the endzone with defensive back Jammie Robinson in coverage. Seemingly the next play, Helton pushes off of Robinson after some steady hand fighting and Robinson cuts the route to pick the ball off.
More on the defensive side of things, defensive back Jarrion Jones and edge Jermaine Johnson put an offensive drive to a screeching halt after a big run by running back Lawrence Toafili. Toafili took the handoff from quarterback McKenzie Milton and hit a hole going up-field for about 15-yards, Johnson stripped the ball from behind while Jones dove on the fumble.
Jermaine Johnson is a monster as plenty of you know. There was one point when he was doing hand drills, coach Odell Haggins yells, “Finish!” and Johnson does a flying cross-body tackle almost parallel to the ground and makes the bag thud hitting the ground. Another player who showcased his speed in that drill was defensive end Derrick McClendon.
Another noticeable thud and consequent yell from Norvell across the field was from offensive lineman Darius Washington. Washington flattened defensive back Jadarius Green-McKnight after driving him up the field and I think the ground shook a little.
This was one of the better practices I’ve seen this season overall although, in full team drills I believe the defense is still ahead.