I met up with GoBR at Thursday night's open practice at DKR-TMS and focused mostly on the offense and the competitive passing drills.
I'll just bang these notes out in the order that I took them:
- Malcolm Williams still needs to improve his nerves, specifically the ones between his ears. He's the kind of guy who can turn his body completely around, go up and make a great catch while maintaining body control to drop a foot to the turf before tumbling out of bounds, but somehow becomes an optical illusion when asked to catch a ball in his chest standing still. That said, once the ball is securely in his hands he becomes a good kind of optical illusion - the kind opposing defensive backs dive right through and into the dirt.
- Paden Kelley was working left tackle with the ones today in 11-11 drills. I didn't see Hix yesterday, but I didn't think he was injured. Hopefully there's some competition there, if only to give the OL some reason to keep scraping themselves off the turf.
- Cody Johnson did not look nearly as svelte as I had heard/hoped, but he should be money in his usual role of goal line finisher. I did not see the Jumbo package line up, but I would bet that Randall is our FB in that lineup. CoJo also had a volleyball-set INT on the one play where I saw him asked to try and catch a ball downfield.
- GoBR mentioned Aaron Williams' hit on Mike Davis on a screen. We need to punish screens like that all year, since that's going to be the first place most teams will go to avoid our pass rush. Davis, to his credit, hung on to the ball and popped back up. He also looks polished enough to contribute in spot duty this season. Great hands and attention to detail.
- Darius White (your new #4) looks like Malcolm Williams, Jr. Pure, natural athlete with every tool necessary to stomp some mudholes in opposing defenses, but still needs to learn to focus. One play that stood out had White beat his man by two steps and then slow down to jump for the slightly overthrown ball instead of hitting the jets and diving for it which would have given him a chance. The ball sailed just out of his reach. He had similar (but more pronounced) problems to Malcolm in individual drills with hands. He's young, though, so he's got time.
- I know the defense was GoBR's territory, but I have to mention the fluidity Reggie Wilson showed on his pick 6. I thought he was a linebacker until I caught his number. Me likey.
- DeSean Hales looks good wearing #3. He adjusted beautifully on a deep jump ball and out-jumped A.J. White by almost a foot for a great sideline catch. He may have been out of bounds when he landed but he flashed a lot of true receiver skills and athleticism on that play. Very impressive.
- Chris Jones made an appearance by making a good adjustment on a slightly underthrown sideline pass. He slowed down and slipped the db allowing him to jump and haul it in. Jones also looks speedy.
- I would rate Marquise Goodwin as our best receiver. He's got blazing speed, what-was-that? acceleration, he runs his routes with a purpose, and his hands looked great last night. What more can you say?
- The offensive line was as bad as it was good. Sometimes allowing mass penetration through seemingly every gap, and sometimes forming a perfect pocket around the QB and maintaining for several seconds. Occasionally a few holes opened up, but there was maybe one real break away run on the night (those reporting otherwise weren't paying attention to the number of thuds taken by the ball carrier on his way through the box). The new power play run from under center with the pulling guard I noticed only a few times, and it seemed to have the effect of sliding the entire line of scrimmage towards the sideline without opening anything up. No counters were called today to combat this, but they may not have installed it or may have been focusing on that play. This offense still displays a desperate need for constraint plays to complement our base concepts.
- Kirkendoll made a good adjustment on a back-shoulder throw from Garrett Gilbert that could have been thrown by Drew Brees. Captain Kirk was able to get enough separation while the ball was in flight to elude both his man and the safety help and get a big chunk of YAC.
- Trey Hopkins is still in his stance at left tackle.
- Gilbert looked great overall. His arm is fantastic and he seemed to make smart decisions, though it was tough to follow everyone and he may have been overly conservative. Still, he hit his targets well and the deep balls were usually catchable by either his man or no man. As long as we don't give him the DIY offense that Colt ran the past two seasons, I think he can really develop.