Shrine Game Notebook: West Squad Day One

January 14th, 2013

Travis Howard had a good first day of practice


Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor

I spent the first part of practice watching the DBs in a couple of drills before moving to the OL vs. DL in a spirited pass rush drill. Most of the observations from the day will be from these position groups.

O-Line/D-Line:
Dann O’Neill, T, Western Michigan: O’Neill is very tall at 6’8” and carries his 308 pounds very nicely. During warm-ups and stretching drills he showed a very easy natural athleticism and he wasn’t shy about being in front of everyone else. His performance in drills was decidedly mixed. On one set of reps he nicely steered USC DE Wes Horton very wide, and then on the next he absorbed the bull rush and stood Horton up. But the next set of reps was a different story as O’Neill anticipated Horton going wide and setting up too deep. Horton crossed over his face and beat him inside easily. O’Neill recovered nicely on the next play, stoning a painfully slow spin move.

Kirby Fabien, G, Calgary: I always like to see Canadian collegiate talent, but Fabien looked out of place today. He is slow to fire out his arms and doesn’t generate much lower body strength. San Jose State DE Travis Johnson flew past him on one rep, then on the very next play made a nice fake step outside to cut inside and forcing Fabien to grab the back of his shoulder pads.

Andrew Robiskie, C, Western Illinois: It was not a good day for Terry’s son. He was consistently overpowered in the pass rush drills and did not handle his failure well. After Mississippi State DT Josh Boyd destroyed him with a powerful up-and-under move, on the next snap Robiskie bounced the ball on the snap and then got pushed over by Boyd. The rather loquacious OL Coach consistently chided Robiskie for setting up high and not sinking his hips, which is real trouble for a shorter lineman like Robiskie, who is 6’2” and 302 pounds.

Sam Brenner, G, Utah: Brenner was one of the more impressive linemen today. He showed natural knee bend and good flexibility. In warm up stretches he was able to get quite low in the lunge walk better than some of the linebackers. What I really liked was how well he redirected in pass protection; Brenner has very good leverage and understands how to use the defender’s momentum against him. He was the only interior lineman to have any success against Michigan DT William Campbell, who had an excellent afternoon.

Campbell used a powerful bull rush to beat Robiskie once, and he beat Brenner with a quick half-spin and reset, showing excellent timing to hit Brenner’s inside arm with the guard’s weight outside. Campbell also pounced on a fumble from Texas A&M RB Christine Michael, who tried to cut in two different directions at the same time he was taking the handoff and fell flat on his facemask. About the only thing Campbell didn’t so well was long snap in the punting drill, as the coaches decided to work on an agility drill with the OL and force someone else to do it.

Montana State DE Caleb Schreibeis really captured my attention. I had not seen him before but he had an excellent practice. He showed he could tack wide around the tackle and quickly flatten once he got to the outside shoulder. Schreiber beat BYU T Braden Brown with an excellent outside-in shoulder move and streaked to the towel-as-QB. His quickness was very evident, but he also showed a willingness to engage and mix it up inside. At a well-chiseled 6’3” and 252 pounds, Schreiber looks like a guy with a legit NFL future as a 3-4 OLB.

Arkansas Pine Bluff DE Brandon Thurman is somehow on the West while teammate Terron Armstead is on the East, but both represented their school quite well. Thurman showed great explosion off the snap. He gets low in his stance and stays low upon engagement, showing excellent use of leverage and a very quick leg drive. He rocked Braden Brown with a bull rush as if he was pushing someone on skates. On another rep he drew a hold from Kirby Fabien (notice a theme?), and on yet another he caught Pittsburgh’s Ryan Turnley very high and slipped under him for what would have been an easy sack. He exudes fast-twitch muscle and bears some playing resemblance to the Brandon Graham that came out of Michigan and not the one struggling with the Eagles.

Colorado DT Will Pericak showed good power and a nice ability to disengage from the block. He has the size at 6’3”, 295, and the type of playing style that makes him a natural 5-technique for a 30 front. The Ryan brothers will like him.

Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State is the epitome of a bad body with all his weight in his midsection and short arms and legs for his height. He struggled to complete the warm up stretches. In one where they had to rotate their hips like a quick hula-hoop motion, I’m not sure Boyd’s hips even moved at all. But once the action went live, Boyd took over. He displayed dominating power and a legitimate desire to emasculate his enemy, and he often succeeded. Boyd has a nice arsenal of power moves and he’s quick off the snap. He wasn’t shy about reveling in his victories, and he was also helping to fire up his D-line mates. Boyd is not going to be for everyone but he’s got definite juice.

Oregon G Jeff Baca: I really don’t want to be rude, but Baca is quite simply wasting everyone’s time by being here. Sorry Jeff, but you were woefully upright and stiff in every single rep I watched.

CONTINUE FOR DB’S & MORE

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