Well, the summer volunteer workout season is over. It was the hottest period of workout days of any season that I can remember but the guys gave it their all on every play. It was so hot that a group of the team members came over to me and thanked me for braving the heat every day
Tom Brandstater told me that most of the guys doing “volunteer” workouts this summer come into the class room, weight room and running track at 12:00 pm on the workout days of Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and are doing one of the three until 4:30 pm when they go to the Practice Field where they work as a team until 6:15 pm and then many of them stay after that, working on whatever they think they need to work on. These are the “volunteer” days of summer. Six and one-half hours of hard conditioning and classes.
This group of “volunteers” averages a count of over 70 football players per workout day. Think about that, an average that high with most of their friends swimming, sleeping, lying back or making money. But it doesn’t seem to be a hardship in their minds, and I certainly don’t see any discipline problem, in fact, they just can’t wait to get out there. Sometimes we may bad mouth individual players but think of what they are doing to make the team, and themselves, better. Possibly, they won’t make a play or they may lack the talent we would like, but the coaches think they can do the best job for that position at that time. Their occasional bad play, or bad day, may upset us but they work so hard we should think twice before we say too much, and show the kids some compassion. I know that’s being a fan, the first to compliment and the first to criticize, but I would hope we never boo at a player.
Just for general information, and to answer the quips about Tom Brandstater’s pipe stem legs, I want everyone to know that the fastest player on the team, Marcus McCauley would probably give anything if his legs were as big as Brandstater’s. McCauley does have slender legs, but do you want beauty or do you want speed? Also, Brandstater is not a skinny kid anymore; he is a big, rawboned man that has strength and speed, and his legs are very strong.
Tight ends were represented by Bear Pascoe, Drew Lubinsky, Norman Davis, and Jesus Tapia. They all looked in good shape and worked very hard. This group is probably the most polite bunch of athletes on the team. They speak softly, smile often, and pickup anybody they knock down. They have improved, somewhat, this summer, but they still have hard hands and need more work on using their fingers. Right now, they are close to the way Paul Williams was in the spring practice of 2005. But during the summer months, he changed over night into the receiver we know now, and perhaps our tight ends will do the same.
Pascoe is doing better now, than he did in spring ball, and continues to try to outwork everyone. He volunteers for every pass route and chases down overthrown balls and does everything he can for his teammates and the squad. Last Thursday, he made a great catch of a pass thrown over the wrong shoulder and got a nice hand from all the guys at practice. Norman Davis will have to put on another 30-40 lbs before he gets any blocking assignments, but he can catch the pass right now.
Tuesday was the last practice day of summer, and after the warm ups and drills, they went into passing and running plays, only with all the positions reversed. Receivers played defense, RBs played LB’s, QBs played DBs, and the OL & DL just pushed people out of place and played wherever they want to! It was great. The defensive backfield scored at will against the Offensive Players, who were trying to play defense. It was embarrassing. The entire defensive backfield could run the routes, and catch the ball, but not a single receiver could play defense. There was a lot of humility learned out there Tuesday.
The most athletic man on the team is Tyler Clutts. He looks to be the 3rd best Passer (he was a HS QB) on the team right now, and he never practices passing. He is an outstanding runner and made a move on Paul Williams, that made Williams actually fall down! He’s a fine receiver, with good moves, even at 245 lbs. He can bang with the best of them, but always knows what’s going on. I know he is valuable to us at DE, but he could have played several other positions. He also spends time before and after practices helping others on perceived deficiencies, and he’s a friendly, polite man.
Sean Norton is back, and is well enough to throw, but did not get involved in any drills or plays. I’m sure he will be ok by August 5th, which will be the first actual day of fall practice. By the way, Norton and Ryan Colburn were playing catch, throwing 60 yard passes to each other. Colburn was slightly off line on some, but Norton was doing three steps back, getting into position and stepping forward into perfect balance, and throwing passes into Colburn’s chest consistently. They threw 15-20 at this distance. They then went towards each other, throwing about 35-40 yards, and Norton threw on a line never getting above neck high.
Brain Blip! Think about this...
At right guard, 330 lb Kyle Young, flanked by 315 lb right tackle Chris Denham. Followed by, a motorized uniform, looking like it’s filled with rocks, 245 lb fullback Roshon Vercher, leading the way for dainty-footed 230 lb running back Dwayne Wright. Does this give you an idea of why Young might have been working out at guard/tackle during spring training? Is this a possibility? Will this pick up a first down? What do you think of this idea?
Clifton Smith was there for a while and threw about 20 lobs for the RBs practice drills. He looks very good physically, very strong, but he was favoring his leg. This might just be habit, as we sometimes fall into this practice after an injury or it may be bothering him. I’m still hoping he gets back out there by August 20th, and able to go full blast, but I doubt it. Vercher was not there, but I do believe he got married this past weekend, and I hope he will be back for practice on the 4th without losing too much strength.
The team will go immediately to two-a-days for the first seven days of fall camp, starting on August 5th. Then go back to one a day for the remainder of the practice season. When fall practice starts, we will see where the actual strength and ability are, because of pads and all-out warfare. Ability and deficiency, both show up quickly, when these huge men start throwing people around and the linebackers are hitting, and the backs are blocking. You hear the thuds, and fists are thrown. It’s exciting and it’s our Fresno State Football!