8/20 Morning Practice Thoughts (Updated)

I was able to make it down for Monday's morning practice. Here are some of my thoughts and observations.

  • Jordan Bishop and James Rodgers will be missed in the sense that they're Bishop and Rodgers, but you can't help thinking that our receiving corps is going to be superb this season. Richard Mullaney and Kevin Cummings both have hands and hops and are great at creating separation. I know Cummings is in line to get a lot of looks this season, but watch out for Mullaney as well. He's my sleeper for this season. I remember Brandin Cooks making a lot of great catches last season, but what took me by surprise today was his speed. The dude can fly, and more than once he was able to run down what looked to be an overthrown pass from Mannion. Obum Gwacham is a freak athletically, for what it's worth. Markus Wheaton looked solid, as expected. Tyler Trosin loomked good with the third-stringers. So if Cummings, Wheaton, and Cooks all go down with freak injuries, never to fear. We've got depth for days.
  • If there was a complaint, it would be that there seemed to be more drops than I've ever seen at a practice. But it's time for optimism so I'm going to skip over that.

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These Are Drills

  • On the subject of drops, however, there was a funny moment when the tight ends were catching bullets out of the Jug machine from about three yards away. Tyler Perry dropped one, giving Kellen Clute the opportunity to say "you suck". Aw, nothing like trash talk between a pair of players that won't be traveling to road games this season. There was actually a ton of good-natured ribbing going back and forth, which seemed to keep everyone lively and engaged.
  • On the subject of tight ends; we have a ton of them. There are seven on the roster, which seems to be six more than any one team would need (and that's coming from a former backup tight end). Since they were closest to me for the majority of practice, I decided to rank them in order of performance this morning:

1. Connor Hamlett
2. Colby Prince
3. Caleb Smith
4. Tyler Perry
5. Kellen Clute
6. Dustin Stanton
7. Ricky Ortiz

  • So yeah, there's more information on our tight ends then you'll ever need to know. If this was SEC country, however, you'd be thanking me for determing who our sixth and seventh stringers would be. Anyway, Prince will no doubt be the starter heading into next week; he just didn't look good today. Had a few drops and was playing "out of control" according to Coach Riley ("Gosh darnit Colby hold on to the ball. You're playing out of control" was the exact quote).
  • Terron Ward and Jordan Jenkins split the majority of the carries with the ones, which I found odd considering I thought Storm Woods and Malcolm Agnew were the frontrunners at this point. They split touches with the twos, while Chris Brown was delegated to the threes. Honestly, it was tough to distinguish between any of them as far as who is better. Woods can turn the corner explosively, which I think is something we've missed in the past few years. He doesn't pick holes as well as Jacquizz Rodgers, but I like backs that can bounce it outside and open things up. Once he got to the sideline, he also showed a good "tight roping" ability as well. He has a burst of speed once he takes the handoff that no one else showed. Brown is a physical specimen, and I could see him taking on a major role by next season.
  • In my opinion, I'm fine with either Woods or Agnewas our starter. The only knock on Agnew is ball security, which hopefully has improved. Maybe we could see a Ryan McCall-Ken Simonton like duo? That'd be fun. No question that Jenkins will be an ideal third down back. He displayed exactly what I had been hearing about; solid receiver on safe routes, picks up the blitz with great efficiency, good on draw plays. I'd say that Brown is a good third stringer for first and second downs if there are any injuries. Overall, I think we'll be fine. All we need is someone solid back there who can take some pressure off of Sean Mannion.

  • Mannion looked solid overall, but he did overthrow a few balls, something that seemed to be a problem last year.
  • I’m excited to see Tim McMullen in game action. He lived up to what I had been hearing for the first two weeks. His punts are long enough, but even more important is that he has tremendous hang time.
  • Anthony Watkins was back participating. He didn’t look to be going full speed, appearing to be a little tentative. Understandable.
  • Peter Ashton, Derek Nielsen, Blake Harrah, and Desmond Collins sat out the morning practice. Jordan Poyer was held out of offense/defense drills.
  • Castro Masaniai is huge. That is all.
  • I think our defensive line will be fine this year. They’re big and slow, but Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn both showed a lot or promise last year. If Andrew Seumalo can step up, they could really surprise. I also look what I saw on the scout team in Rusty Fernando, Joe Lopez, Noke Tago, and Mana Rosa.
  • Mike Parker and Jon Warren did the first Joe Beaver show of the season live from practice.
  • After practice I got autographs from Gwacham, Wheaton, Brown, and Richie Harrington.

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Boom's Signature

  • Besides for the music (which was not as loud or played as frequently as everyone was making it out to be) and increased separation of the first and second stringers and scout team, I didn’t notice any other changes in the way practice was being run.
  • Workers were painting the end zone and midfield logos at Reser so I was able to walk through the gates and into our seats. Not sure if I was allowed to do that or not, but no one stopped me. I can’t tell you how pumped I got though as I walked up the ramp and into the concourse. It’s like, I’m gonna be doing this in two weeks for a real, live game. Chills I tell you. Chills.Logo_medium

The View From My Seats As Workers Paint The Midfield Logo

  • Student tickets for Nicholls State became available yesterday. It sounded like there were only 60 or so people in line when they were first released, but we talked to some people that had driven down from Portland just to get theirs later in the morning. So at least there’s a small amount of support.
  • Overall, I had a great time. I highly recommend checking a practice out if you haven’t already. You may or may not learn something important, but it will get you even more excited for the season.
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