1. Quarterbacks: We have all four QBs working out each Practice and they fall into this unofficial rating.
Tom Brandstater is the acknowledged leader of the Football Team on these Summer Practices and works as the First String QB. He has continued to improve his passing accuracy, even showing marked improvement over Spring Training. He’s developed a better touch on the short passes and has even improved on the longer ones. The Team seems to follow his leadership without reservation and that is a very telling thing. Another point I might bring out is he has very good speed in the open field and is faster and more fluid that Pinegar was.
Sean Norton is working with the Second String or mixture with the First and doing a very good job. In my opinion he is still the best passer, having an array of hard and soft passes. He is able to throw it high or low, or left or right as needed and able to throw at a full run going in either direction. He also has that rare ability to see the whole field and change Receivers as necessary. We’ll just have to wait for things to work themselves out starting August 4.
Ryan Colburn and Jordan Christensen are going to be the redshirt and the holder on PATs this year, respectively. Colburn is doing well but he’s just like Brandstater and Norton were their first years. He’s big and strong but needs a lot of work. Christensen (who has the most muscular body on the football team) has an ugly passing motion but he still throws as catchable ball as either of the first two.
Now, what I’ve said above is based on Workouts that are being held without pads and very little physical contact so we’re not getting an absolutely true reading on what these guys can do but it’s weighted towards what we can expect. I want to say that I still lean towards Norton as the Starter but I certainly believe that Brandstater will do us an outstanding job if he is chosen by Coach Hill and I will not be overly upset by it.
Now for the bad news: Norton was favoring his back earlier this week and today was almost totally unable to even bend over. I mean it hurt to watch him! The good news is he’s about 19-20 years old and they never stay hurt. It looked like a weight training injury to me as Monday and Tuesday he was doing certain moves that seemed to be testing the back. He seems to have good turning ability but cannot bend at all. He had to stand on the sidelines today and watch and he hated it! Also, to show the human side of practice and what can go wrong we had an interesting happening today. After Brandstater had thrown a very good string of completions he then threw three interceptions for Touchdowns in a ROW. So he decided he would slip in a running play and the RB fumbled, the ball was picked out of the air and IT was run in for another Touchdown. So then he had Colburn come in and the first pass he threw was intercepted. Brandstater then lined up as a Receiver and put a very nice slow and go move on the DB, made a great catch and ran it in for a Touchdown and spiked the ball. He yelled “That’s the way to play Football!” Those things happen and I don’t mean it to reflect on Brandstater’s good play overall. It was actually probably good for the team’s bonding because of the Defense coming up so big for 5 consecutive plays.
2. Receivers: Paul Williams and Joe Fernandez are the big boys right now but Chastin West and Jason Crawley are looking very good. Ciccone and a couple of new guys (I still don’t know their names) are showing well and we seem to be fairly deep in good, quick guys. Seyi Ajirotutu has been recovering from knee problems but is now doing the stairs and some running and says he will be back full force for the fall season. These guys are real serious about getting playing time and they are all in great physical condition. All the Receivers seem to have really hit the weight room and are packed with muscle; they are not going to be taken down or moved out of their routes very easily. I would have to believe that our Passing Game will be better than last year if we can get a decent start and build some confidence with the new personnel. -fsufever