Bumpty-bump. Thanks for these thoughts. --PB--
There were three ways I could have spent my afternoon: A. Taking notes in my Econ class, B. Studying for my upcoming Accounting test, or C. enjoying perfect weather at the spring practice. Needless to say, it was hardly a tough choice. The crack of shoulder pads was great to hear after a two month hiatus.
The first team group on offense (Gilbert, Kirk, Williams, Chiles, Smith, and Newton) looked consistent all afternoon. Whaley, surprisingly, started practice working with the first team until Newton emerged from the locker room. He hit his holes hard throughout practice and also showed promise as a receiver, despite poor route running, after motioning from TB to split-end. All you need to know about Barrett Matthews is that he is one hell of blocker, especially after Gilbert motioned him from Flex Tight End to Fullback. Matthews and Johnson in the same backfield is exactly what you want on a 4th and 1.
Chiles looked more refined than he did a couple months ago. He blocked aggressively, showed great hands especially on a catch over the middle, and flashed elite speed. Fitzhenry and Hales showed signs that they could contribute this year working in the second group with Harris. Gilbert threw the ball well at different ranges. He completed long passes to Williams down the side line and stood in the pocket under pressure from the A gaps long enough to loft a pass to Chiles uncovered in the end-zone.
I spent a lot the time watching Tucker kick. He was successfully booting kicks from the ridiculous angle that the front end-zone pylon provided while the D-Line worked underneath him. I was impressed by his range, his leg was accurate up until 55 yards. Tucker was later seen with the rest of kickers holding the down markers for the skeleton drill. (I guess thats part of the deal when your a kicker, but you think there would be student assistants to do that.) It looks like he's been preparing himself for the showdown that will occur when Will Russ arrives on campus.
Anyone notice that Case's throwing motion is nearly identical to Colt's? Its like deja vu all over again.
I can't say I spent too much time looking at the defense. It's like seeing Christmas presents early without Hicks and Jeffcoat. I did notice Gideon and Vaccaro together have closing speed and are physical enough to contribute to the stopping the run.