The coaching staff had referees on hand for the second full-contact practice of the spring. The ‘Dogs were hitting hard, the intensity was high and a few fights broke out amongst the players.
Tyler Clutts had his best practice of the spring. He easily was able to beat right tackle Kenny Avon and get to the quarterback. Clutts finished with at least two sacks. Since hitting the quarterback is not allowed, he had to slow up as he approached the pocket, otherwise, he would have laid out Tom Brandstater.
Ahijah Lane, Marcus Riley and Quaadir Brown are all fast, athletic linebackers.
Riley is amazing despite still recovering from his knee injury of 17 months ago. If he is this good now, he should be downright unstoppable come fall.
Lane is extremely fast for a middle linebacker. He played on the weak side last season and on the strong side in 2005. In the middle he may have his best season yet. In one particular play he was able to chase down Lonyae Miller on the outside, something Dwayne Andrews would not have been able to do.
Redshirt freshman Lorne Bell is pushing Moses Harris at the strong safety spot. Bell came away with an amazing interception in 11 on 11 drills. He stepped in front of a well-thrown Ryan Colburn pass and made a clean pick.
Damon Jenkins only dressed in half-pads. In his place Damion Owens is taking reps with the first team defense. Owens is clearly the third cornerback on the team after Jenkins and A.J. Jefferson. But with Jenkins injury, Jefferson is emerging as star in the secondary.
Jefferson is fast and athletic. His long arms easily bat balls away and he resembles a young Marcus McCauley.
Brandstater and Colburn did not have the best practice Wednesday. The windy conditions didn’t help and the coaches called about twice as many run plays in 11 on 11 drills.
The ‘Dogs did run a good amount of goal line offense; this is where the refs got their most work. The offense seemed to score at will, and both the quarterbacks ran the goal line offense with ease. Each was accurate in short passes to the tight ends and backs.
Anthony Harding may miss the rest of spring. Even if he was not injured, he might have a hard time knocking Miller out of the starting spot.
Miller continues to dominant this spring. He does not go down after the first hit and fights for extra yards on every run. He has the speed to get to the outside and the moves to make defenders miss. However, he still has had some fumble problems, particularly during the exchange.
Jamal Rashad could be second on the depth chart by the time spring is done. He is not as powerful as Miller or as fast as Harding but he displays a good combination of both. He had his trouble running up the gut but was effective getting around the corner.
Jesus Tapia and Cameron Harris are having solid springs. It is baffling to think these two players, who have seven years combined experience in the program, only have two career receptions between them.
On the field thus far in spring only their ability and experience have stood out. One would never know these guys rarely see the ball in a game.
Clint Stitser was quite vocal about his displeasure with the windy weather. Unlike Monday when he was simply magnificent, Wednesday, he had his troubles kicking the ball long and straight.
Outside of 11 on 11 action, special team drills are the most fun to watch.
Quaadir Brown, Clifton Smith, Seyi Ajirotutu, Marlon Moore, Chastin West and others took turns returning punts. Each return man had a blocker and the defender had to shed the block and get to the defender.
Nico Herron and Frank Padilla had the liveliest contact of the bunch. Herron, who was having a great practice, was trying to shed Padilla but was floored. But Herron was not satisfied with his performance and wanted to go at Padilla again.
It was just one of altercations that occurred Wednesday afternoon between the players. The biggest was after a Smith run where about 20-30 players got involved before the coaches stepped in.
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