Saturday, August 18, 2007

Training Camp - Week 2

If the theme from the first week of training camp was injuries then the theme for the second week was progress and fatigue. By all accounts, the offense showed some improvements as the week went along. Offensive Coordinator Jay Norvell stopped installing plays by Tuesday and now the offense is just working on burning the playbook into memory through repetition. The two-a-days were taking there toll and players were sore, tired, and sluggish at times. The team ended the week with the fall scrimmage at Drake Stadium on Saturday.


In any training camp, the defensive is going to look better than the offense. That was definitely the case this week as Walker's unit continued to dominate. The offense did get the upper hand a few times including a very good performance last Sunday. The defense didn't waste any time regaining the upper hand on Tuesday and a very poor offensive performance saw Norvell's unit doing up-downs as punishment. Wedensday and Thursday saw the pendilum swing a little back toward the offense with some nice plays in goal line and red zone situations.

Ben Olson has been getting the lion's share of the snaps this camp, with probably close to 75% to 80% of the plays with him under center. He's been drinking from the fire hose, if you will, but the extra experience and practice has really helped him. He's been making quicker decisions, which has been a major criticism of his play in the past. He's also looked very sharp throwing the ball on both short and longer routes.

Fatigue has set in and Olson has said that his entire body was sore and aching from all the plays. It sounds like the extra time is paying off and Ben said he feels much improved over where he was at this time last year.

Jay Norvell had these comments about Ben's performance on Wedensday, "Ben is really growing. He has never had this many reps in his life. He's working like he's never worked before, and I'm really proud of him today. He was tired and sore and beat up a little bit, and really pushed through it. He's starting to feel comfortable with the pass schemes. When a guy's feet is slow, he's not sure. And when he feet quicken up, he's more comfortable, and today was a real positive day. He was much quicker, much more decisive with his footwork and it showed in his reads and his execution.''

In addition to Ben getting a lot of reps, Kalil Bell has also been giving more carries in practice. Part of that was a concious decision by the coaches to try and keep Markey fresh and avoid injuries to the starting tailback. The other side is that Bell has been working on his receiving skills and rounding out his game. He has put on about 15 lbs since last season and he looks more powerful.

In the injury parade, Shannon Tevaga has been limited in practice because of shoulder and wrist injuries. His MRI came back negative. Likewise, Michael Pitre's knee injury came back negative and he hasn't participated much in practice either. Backup center Micah Reed injured his ankle but the injury doesn't look like it was serious. Ossarr Rashan had a mild concussion after getting hit during a scrimmage and he spent a few practices in a no-hit red jersey. Chris Joseph also missed a practice because of a hip flexor. All five players were expected to be ready by the start of the season next month.


A scary injury occurred earlier with Kevin Brown. He hurt the quadriceps on his leg and missed a few practices. Later in the week he was wearing a large pad above his knees to protect that sensitive area. It slowed him down a bit but the big tackle should be ready to play against Stanford.

Coach Walker said that line backing depth was developing and he felt really good about backups Bosworth, Oatis, and Hale if they are needed this season. Likewise the depth in the secondary is filling out with Aaron Ware and Brett Lockett impressing the coaches at safety. Alteraun Verner continues to stand out.

Rodney Van and Chris Horton were back practicing in the scrimmages after injuries limited their time last week. Walker said that Van looked good on the field and he still has a hold on the starting corner spot opposite Trey Brown. I still think Verner and even Norris will continue to push for minutes this year.

The list of minor injuries continued on defense as well. Christian Taylor suffered a minor ankle sprain this week but he continued to practice. There is some concern with Taylor's injury as an ankle sprain hindered him last season.

Special Teams

Kai Forbath had some big kicks this week and the talented red-shirt freshman was definitely living up to the hype he had coming out of high school. He's improved immensely since the spring where he left a lot of coaches, and fans, questioning how good the kicking game would be this season.

Kick off coverage and returns were a focus this week. With the new NCAA rules moving back kickoffs to the 30-yard line, that phase of the game will take on a bigger importance. Coach Dorrell said that the team was spending 20 to 25 percent more time practicing special teams this fall. It is also an area, along with punt returns, where open auditions were still being conducted.

Terrance Austin and Alteraun Verner were leading contenders for punt returns. Though Coach Dorrell said freshman Courtney Vinney would be in the mix in the future. Vinney could find a spot on a special teams unit this year and he looks to be the only player from the 2007 recruiting class to not red shirt.

Mike Norris, Matthew Slater, Kahlil Bell and Brett Lockett will compete for the starting nod on kickoffs. This could be an area of concern as last year's returners, Derrick Williams and Jeremy McGee, both left the team this summer.


Anonymous said...

While I can understand Markey being "saved" for the season, whatever happened to "playing the best man for the job?" (K. Bell)

Training camp is where you "earn" your game playing time. Chris Markey has not shown me anything.

I don't know what Chris has on who but he appears to be untouchable as far as his conduct goes.

In a word, he wears "The Emperor's New Clothes."

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