Spring Practice 9 Review
The rain held back and only sprinkles fell towards the end of the Bulldogs' ninth spring practice. Louis Leonard was back at practice after missing some of last week and the South Valley Scrimmage for undisclosed reasons. Dwayne Wright sat out of today's practice, but it didn't look to be injury related. If so, it was minor. Ryan McKinley continues to be sidelined as well. Seyi Ajirotutu was also at practice despite being helped off the field at last Saturday's scrimmage.
The quarterback battle is starting to dwindle down to a two man race. Ryan Colburn continues to look great at times, but his inexperience, and the fact that Sean Norton and Tom Brandstater have the edge, equals redshirt. Speaking of the quarterbacks, it was pointed out to me by fsufever, each one is capable of throwing the quick, dump-off screen. If Bulldog fans remember Paul Pinegar was unable to throw that "simple" pass. He either over threw or under threw his target, and was never able to catch his receiver in stride.
It is pass that really wasn't used too much in the offense with Pinegar, other than to Matt Rivera as a last option in passing situations. I hadn't really notice that the three quarterbacks were able to throw this pass because it is a pass that is often taken for granted. However, in Pat Hill's offense, timing is everything.
Chastin West caught one of these particular passes from Norton, in practice, and darted into the secondary with ease. West lined up at the wideout, came in motion and lined up in the backfield as an H-back. Norton took the snap and dumped off the ball to West in stride and the rest was history. If that ball was thrown ahead or behind West, the timing of the play would have been off and resulted in little or no gain.
West, and the rest of the young receivers did a fine job as a punt returners. Jason Crawley didn't have his best practice, and quite honestly the entire practice lacked the intensity of some of the others I have witnessed. Maybe it was the weather? West and Crawley have separated themselves from the rest of the young receivers, in my opinion. Ajirotutu and Marlin Moore need to keep up or face the reality of sitting on the bench as the 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th option at receiver.
Rich Owens got a lot of reps in practice in place of Wright. The rFr has a great running style, and awesome technique. He is a patient runner like Bryson Sumlin. He waits for his blocks to develop and once he hits a hole, it's like, "I had no idea he could run like that." Dorsey has yet to wow me. It is not because he has not looked good, he has, but I am expecting more from him. Dorsey brings a lot to the table as a running back, and I believe he could start in place of Wright, if needed.
From none to many, that is the new slogan for the fullbacks. Seven fullbacks dot the spring roster, but aside from Roshon Vercher, they are either young or inexperienced. Vercher got a lot of passes thrown his way. He has always had great hands, but is the increase of activity a sign of Steve Hagen's changing offense or the ability of the new quarterbacks to hit the backs in stride?
Bobby Lepori has a lock on the left tackle position, for now. Adam McDowell, John Guevara, and Richard Pacheco still have a shot, but Lepori is looking real good. What about 4 star JC recruit James Paulk? What about him? He is not in football shape, and is sucking wind trying to beat out the more physical lineman. Paulk could make his move in the fall, if he works at it.
Devin Packard is a star in the making if he just practiced a little harder, gained some weight and didn't look so timid. He is listed as 6-6 235, but needs to tack on at least another 30 lbs to be a true menace in the middle. Charles Tolbert and Ikenna Ike are both under 6-2 but have a motor that doesn't quit. Ike played at defensive end last year, but this year is listed as a defensive tackle. He could fill the role that Garrett McIntyre played in the nickel packages last year, as a "DE" playing "DT" in passing downs. Kenny Avon is continuing to improve each practice, and he is a player to watch at this Saturday's Spring Game.