Thank goodness for fall camp! It feels great just to get back into Reser, even if its just watching a practice. I made it to Friday night's practice and to a little bit of today's practice. Here are some of my thoughts and observations from the two practices.
- The night practice was oddly pet friendly, there were more than a handful of dogs in Reser and one was playing fetch in the stands, but when you have no security watching I suppose that can happen.
- The defensive line looks small, with the exception of Castro Masaniai who is a mountain of a man, but more on him later. They played fairly well in the 11 on 11s though, where they pretty effectively destroyed the offensive line. It is a little concerning for when we'll play teams with big offensive lines, but we'll find out for sure when Wisconsin rolls into town.
- Masaniai is a large dude and I'm not sure how much quicker he is than last season. When watching warmups he was easily the slowest guy, which certainly is no death knell but it doesn't bode well either. In 11 on 11s, he did alright as a run stuffer, which is his job, no real pocket penetration, but he is taking up space. It doesn't appear he'll ever be much of a factor on passing downs though.
- Jordan Poyer is trying to be more of a leader on defense, especially in the secondary. Whenever any defensive back made any sort of play, Poyer was right there congratulating him. The Beavs need some kind of leader on defense and it looks like Poyer plans to be the guy.
- Markus Wheaton can be a great receiver at times, he beat just about every cornerback today, with the exception of Poyer was not in pads, but it seems to me that he sometimes loses concentration. In last night's practice he had two drops, both pretty catchable balls, but he just missed them. That being said today he beat Rashaad Reynolds and another corner back for two deep balls from Mannion, and looked terrific in drills with a gorgeous catch on a fade route.
- Speaking of receivers Brandin Cooks looks electric, he had a couple catches today, where even if it were full contact drills he still would have broken it for big yardage.
- Storm Woods should be the starting running back right now. We know what we have with Jordan Jenkins, a very serviceable 3rd down back, Terron Ward, an okay runner, but Storm Woods has a burst that the other two can just not compare to. They were in no contact drills, but he can accelerate in a hurry. Malcolm Agnew is still in the conversation, but he was not getting a lot of first team reps, and his hamstrings still worry me. Chris Brown took almost no snaps until he worked with the third stringers today, so I do not expect to see much of him.
- Kevin Cummings has earned some playing time. All he has done in practice is create separation and catch the ball, I believe he will see the field a fair amount.
- Back-up QB Richie Harrington played as the long snapper for some of the special teams drills last night, hopefully he never has to in a real game situation, some of those were ugly.
- In today's practice, I saw the defensive linemen drop into coverage, which I do not remember seeing a lot of last year, and hooray for creativity, but when you have Masaniai in the middle it does not seem like the best choice either.
- The offensive line had a horrid showing last night, when at least one defender was routinely in the backfield. Today was much better, although it went from winning about 20% of the plays to a 50-50 split, so it is still a work in progress. None of those guys better get hurt either, the second stringers did not look much better, where they were consistently losing to the second string defensive linemen.
- If we have to burn any of the freshman offensive linemen's redshirts it would be a terrible thing. None of them look game ready, but hopefully they improve over the next year. It would be a waste of a player to give up one of his eligible years for only a part of this season.
- Dylan Wynn was my favorite player to watch yesterday. He is relentless, on a run play which went away from him he still went to chase Storm Woods some thirty yards down the field, and did that again today. He showed a little versatility too where he played defensive tackle in a 3-3-5 nickel formation. He split a double team at that spot too, although that was against the 2s. I personally think he will project in the NFL to a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he is more than capable of playing the defensive end spot.
After all that I'm just ready to see real football! 14 days til the opener!