Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
Rushing to get these notes typed before my plane takes off, so I apologize in advance for the more sparse details than normal.
Howard LB Keith Pough is very hard to miss with his half-shirt and nonstop yapping. It’s also hard to ignore his very strong play this week, and today was his best so far. In a blitz drill he went right over SMU RB Zach Line, and in another rep he used a real quick shoulder fake that got him a clean pass. He exudes fast-twitch musculature. His constant jabbering, which is almost universally well-received, echoes of Sean Weatherspoon at the Senior Bowl a few years back. Pough is not as sturdily built but has a similar game and mentality.
Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas is the shortest of the DBs by a fair margin at 5’9” but he is always in position. He is very quick to read his keys and attacks the run with a controlled downhill burst. In one instance he correctly saw that Christine Michael was going to bounce the run outside because Ohio State LB Nathan Williams was in the designed hole. Thomas flew to the outside and beat Michael to the spot for an easy backfield tackle.
Iowa CB Micah Hyde made another INT today, undercutting Jasper Collins to snare a Matt Scott throw that lacked pace to the outside. It appeared that Collins ran the route too deep, as he was instructed by the position coach on where he was supposed to be, but it was still a nice play by Hyde and bad throw by Scott.
South Carolina LB Devonte Holloman was dynamite in the blitz drill. His first rep he faced off against TAMU RB Christine Michael, and he caught Michael with his head down and flat footed, discarding him like a bird cage newspaper. On his next rep Holloman unleashed a very quick inside spin move that Zach Line barely saw before Holloman got to the pseudo QB. He set the edge nicely in a stretch run, though he was unable to get off the block from Idaho State TE Josh Hill.
Pittsburgh OL Ryan Turnley also had his best practice. Playing center, he exploded out into space and locked up Nevada LB Albert Rosette. Turnley had one bad snap where the ball hit his calf on the way back, but he also demonstrated real pop to his punch. For this OL, that skill stands out.
Kansas T Tanner Hawkinson completely enveloped San Jose State DE Travis Johnson in a run block, driving him to the ground. Western Michigan T Dann O’Neill did the same to Johnson, who has a real problem with getting too low and overextended. O’Neill just pushed down on Johnson’s shoulder pad and it drove Johnson down. It’s rare to criticize someone for being too low but Johnson is an unfortunate example.
Utah State RB Kerwynn Williams was the only RB to look even somewhat competent in pass protection. He is the smallest of the group but also has the most pop to his pads and the most confidence in his ability.
TCU G Blaize Foltz and Hawkinson looked very good working together on combo blocks and at handing off blocking assignments. They were better together than the sum of their individual parts. They flattened USC DE Wes Horton, who continues his tendency to burst straight up out of his stance before going forward.
Christine Michael did not have a good day. As I mentioned in the Holloman section above, blitz pickup is clearly not his forte. He was tentative and had zero leverage. Michael also took too long to find a hole on more than one occasion. In the open field he is very electric but he has been having trouble getting there.
UCLA CB Sheldon Price did a good job turning and running with MSU WR Chad Bumphis, but he had poor ball awareness and allowed the completion with his back turned. Ball awareness for corners is in very short supply on the West squad.
Iowa State LB A.J. Klein is not much of a creative blitzer; every rep he tried the power rush, and his only success was when Nevada TE Zach Sudfield grabbed his facemask–something Sudfield did three times in the drill thanks to never bending his knees when he extends his arms. After one rep in another drill Klein was angrily sent to the sideline by the position coach, who called his play “an embarrassment to football”. I did not see the criminal offense, unfortunately, but it was in a zone coverage drill.
Arizona QB Matt Scott really struggled again. Taking snaps under center is clearly still akin to learning Arabic, and he is uncomfortable and inaccurate when he has to stand tall and make a throw.
MTSU WR Anthony Amos continues to always run routes at one speed, and today he dropped a ball that he got two hands on.
Kansas State CB Nigel Malone is not playing poorly but he is clearly not the athlete of his CB or WR counterparts in terms of burst and agility.
Vanderbilt DE Rob Lohr didn’t exactly impress in a drill rep, and the position coach made him repeat it. During the second repetition it sure appeared that the coach was calling him “soft” without calling him soft. I don’t disagree.