Friday, August 28, 2009

Football practice: parting shots

This post was written by Vanguard writer Allison Whited.

I have enjoyed my time at practice the past three weeks immensely. I watch so much professional football that it's easy to forget how important raw talent is and how some play the game just to play the game. I have been reminded how camaraderie can exist between two people striving for the same thing and how much we can learn from those teaching us if only we listen.

I'm very shy, so it takes a lot for me to get comfortable enough to talk to someone, but I would like to say that every time I have had contact with someone associated with PSU Athletics, it has been a very positive experience. I even met the athletic director one day and he was so genial that I instantly felt comfortable. I just want to say thank you to those few people I worked up the nerve to talk to between the beginning of spring ball and now. I have utmost respect for the coaching and training staff, the players themselves who work so hard and the folks who work in the athletics department.

Now just a few parting thoughts on what I've noticed in practice the past three weeks:

I love the secondary. The starters seem set to be Tracy Ford and DeShawn Shead at cornerback and Cody Worthen and Jordan Brown at safety. They are good, intelligent athletes and they create a stifling backfield for anyone under the gun. Even the players behind them in depth chart, guys like Mshaka Mitchell and Michael Williams and Denzel Davis, have shown plenty of skill, speed and intelligence. I like the way secondary coach Brandon Shelby coaches. He doesn't appear to be anyone's friend, but he's a great mentor. I really think this group will anchor the defense.

I think the quarterback position is solid in Drew Hubel's hands. His height is a great advantage over everyone else on the depth chart at that position. On some plays, and this happens more and more frequently, he has great—which is a word I try not to use frequently—touch on the ball. He puts it where it should be, softly, without letting it float dangerously. He will be called on a lot this year, but he seems confident enough to handle it. I also think Connor Kavanaugh is a good backup. He gives the offense an extra dimension with his scrambling ability and he seems to be settling into his internal game clock.

The freshman fullbacks have been such a pleasant surprise. We will have to wait for the season to begin to get a taste of offensive coordinator Jim Craft's play calling, but with backs like these as well as incumbent backs like Bobby McClintock and Nick Kalpin, it can't hurt to throw some more runs into the mix. Evans Okotcha and Ben Bowen have lit it up at times. The speed on both of them is great and they are good in pass protection. They are going to prove to be good investments in the future.

The linebacker group is solid. With senior linebackers Erik Pedersen and Ryan Pedersen returning as starters, it's a unit that gets things done. They have each spent at last a year under Glanville and know where they are supposed to be and what they need to do. There are rarely mental lapses and they really are too much fun to watch.

I still think the receiving corps needs another leader besides Aaron Woods. Woods is great to watch at practice. He is so aggressive and finds a way to the ball. I have the feeling he's going to get quite a bit of coverage this season and someone will need to show up to draw heat off of him. From all that I've seen at practice, I think Lavonte Kirven is the most likely. He has good hands and good field awareness.

The offensive and defensive lines have improved so much over just the past three weeks. It's difficult to tell what everyone playing those key positions is doing on every play and I know that I did not give those guys as much credit as they deserve. They work together well and the offensive line has gotten stiffer while the defensive line has gotten more punishing.

My final thought is one of thanks. I'm thankful I got to spend time watching such a talented group of athletes. I'm thankful no one trashed me for any negative comment I may have made. And I'm most thankful that anyone even read my drivel. I have to admit that I thought I was only writing for myself, but as time has worn on I have realized that more people read it than just me. Someone actually warned me that other teams could read this junk to scout out the team (do people really do that?). All I wanted to do was show my commitment to covering the team and give people an idea of what the team was doing. I hope that at the lowest level I have achieved that.


Football practice, Thursday, August 27

by Vanguard writer Allison Whited
I found time to attend both morning and afternoon practice yesterday, so there's quite a bit to report. The basic setup for practice was what it has been all week. In the afternoon though, the first offense took on the first defense which provided a better way to gauge the progress made this week.
Lavonte Kirven has been more of a presence in practice this week than he has been previously. He has good hands and runs a clean route. He seems in synch with Hubel and Kavanaugh and this led to some very nice catches.
The defense looked solid today. They were getting good penetration and the pass rush was steady and thrilling. Linebacker Ryan Pedersen got a hand on a couple of balls and even garnered an interception.
Defensive end Dereck Jester stood out today in a couple of ways. On one play, he rushed the offensive line and broke through with little trouble and on drills looked like he had a good combination of strength and speed. He is one of the smallest guys on the defensive line at 240 pounds but he plays heavier than that.
The offensive linemen took turns taking each other on this morning, and it is without a doubt one of the most fun and most informative drills that can be watched. They go one-on-one until one of them puts the other on the ground. The team gets into watching it and there are a lot of cheers. And for the loser of the match, there are a few up downs.
One particularly interesting matchup was between centers Tyler Staley and Jackson Dallas, who outweighs Staley by 30 pounds. Staley is a veteran of Glanville's team, though, and Dallas is a first year transfer student. This gap in experience allowed Staley to get one over on the bigger man. Dustin Waldron also had a good looking match up against Cole Giandomenico which he won.
In the heat of afternoon practice, everyone seemed a little more irritable. There was a bit of admonishment coming from coaches Glanville and Shelby. Cornerback DeShawn Shead got in some hot water for making too hard of a stop and cornerback Matt Ford was strongly chided for not staying with receiver Ricky Cookman and allowing a touchdown.
On red zone drills from about ten yards out, the secondary was everywhere. The quarterbacks had to run with more than a few balls because none of the receivers could shake his defender. When they switched to the long field, safety Cody Worthen had two of the best plays I've seen him make. On two back-to-back plays, he broke up passes from Hubel and one of them was even to receiver Aaron Woods, who is difficult to cover.
Kavanaugh further proved he is adjusting to the speed of the coach Craft's game today by throwing two consecutive bombs up the middle of the field to Woods.
One thing that stands out in comparison to the first week of practice is the decrease in mental mistakes, the biggest of which being off sides/false start penalties. There were more than a few during the first couple of weeks, and the linemen could often be heard grumbling about their mistakes on the sidelines, but that no longer seems to be much of an issue. This speaks to the discipline and commitment that the team has been working so hard.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Football practice, Wednesday, August 26

This post was written by Vanguard sports writer Allison Whited.

Football practice followed the same structure that it has all week with the first team taking on the opposing second team, yet there has been a shift in the routine from last week. It seemed like last week the focus was really on fundamentals, but this week the focus is clearly on what to do after the snap. It really seems to be making a difference. With so many freshmen on the team, it might be impossible to give them enough looks across the line of scrimmage before the season opens.

Receiver Lavonte Kirven was on his game today and ran two beautiful routes up the defense's left side with a reception each time. He has a good sense of timing and looks for the ball at the right moment. Receiver Ray Fry dropped two balls that had his name all over them. He can be good when he's on, but for the moment, he doesn't seem consistent enough to be counted on.

Defensive lineman Siasu Matagiese got a piece of two balls today. One pass he simply reached up and hit, breaking it up beyond repair. On yet another pass that was low, he caught the ball that the quarterback threw. He is keenly aware of where the ball is after the snap, a skill that makes it difficult to believe that this will be his first year playing at the collegiate level. He is coming from Hawai'i with several accolades and he could become an important part of the line.

The punt/kick return drills today were more involved with more players taking part in them. Linebacker Jaycob Shoemaker was in on them as he was yesterday. On one return, he got to the receiver very quickly and the receiver let the catch go right through his hands and knees. Shoemaker covered it up and if it had been a real game, it would have given his team possession with great field position. It's this quickness and ability to react that would make him a key part of the return team.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Football practice, Tuesday, August 25

This post was written by Vanguard sports writer Allison Whited.

This morning, in the rain, the first offense and the second defense carried out 11-on-11 drills again and vice versa, just like yesterday.

The first offense is getting better at creating running lanes. Bobby McClintock had plenty of room to run and he had quite a few productive carries. Evans Okotcha and Nick Kalpin, who, in his second year, should see more playing time than Okotcha and fellow fullback and freshman Ben Bowen, both had space to make things happen.

Receiver Ray Fry looked good today, so it can be assumed that a nagging hamstring injury is no longer bothering him. Drew Hubel threw some balls his way and he had a catch for around 20 yards. He also caught a beautifully thrown pass from third string quarterback Nick Green.

Quarterback Connor Kavanaugh showed some progress in his game play patience today. Even under pressure, his internal game clock seemed to slow down and he patiently waited until he found an open receiver in Kalua Noa. Generally in a situation such as this, he scrambles and it was heartening to see him sit in the pocket and wait it out.

Freshmen defensive linemen David Gertson and Dereck Jester played the run fairly well. They pulled together for a great stuff of Kalpin.

Against the first offense, receiver Nevin Lewis had some good catches and even better yards after the catch. He repeatedly burned the defense's right side. Receiver Justin Monahan managed to find a rare hole in the middle of the field and made a great play on the ball.

It seems that there are two players guaranteed to do some blocking down field on kick and punt returns. Linebackers Jaycob Shoemaker and Colton Russi were the two constants during today's special teams drills. They seem to compliment each other well. Shoemaker seems a little quicker all around, but Russi seems to have the big hit capacity. Linebacker Kevin Takeno and fullback Kalpin alternated rounding out the group of three working this particular drill.

I try to keep my opinion out of these accounts, but there is something I have to get off my chest. I really, REALLY want to see a receiver, besides the very talented Aaron Woods, step up and tell Hubel he's the guy. The receivers all work hard at practice and most of them have decent hands and speed, but overall, besides Woods, they lack aggressiveness. I want to see them fight for the ball and push just a little harder to get everything they can out their catches. The offense will greatly benefit should anyone decide to make it happen.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Football practice, Monday, August 24

This post was written by Vanguard sports writer Allison Whited.

The cold temperature this morning really brought it home that football season begins in just 12 days. On cold, cloudy mornings like this one, it's hard to believe there is another place as beautiful to watch football practice as Stott Field.

The first offense took on the second defense and vice versa in this morning's 11-on-11 drills. The first defense and certain members of the second defense are making progress. They move together and help each other out when it's needed. The offense still appears to be a little patchwork at times, but, in all honesty, there is marked improvement from both spring ball and just two weeks ago when practice began.

Currently, safeties Cody Worthen and Jordan Brown are deemed to be the starters and it looks like a good combination. They seem to have very different styles of play. Brown is on the move quickly after the snap whereas Worthen employs more of a wait-and-see strategy. Brown is a constant presence in the ball's vicinity, but Worthen sticks with whomever he's covering.

Both seem to be holding back a bit at practice, which doesn't seem like a bad thing given the smattering of injured players on the sidelines. I have heard Worthen described as the "future of the defense" and Brown as a "team leader"—these two working together for the first time should be an anchor point for the defense.

Also on the defensive side of things, cornerback Denzel Davis did a good job of staying on his receiver, particularly on a pass to Nevin Lewis. Linebacker Ryan Rau also did a good job impeding receivers and had a strong stop on receiver Justin Monahan.

Punter Thomas Duyndam and his presumed back up Zach Brown had good practices. It's difficult to tell how strong their feet are as they only kick for a few moments and from a specific, constant range, but they both looked to have good control of the ball with decent hang time. Duyndam for the most part averaged about six seconds of hang time over a distance of 30-40 yards. He kicks the ball fairly high and seems to be able to put it where he wants it.

Drew Hubel threw a beautiful pass to Lavonte Kirven. On a long field, Hubel's pass was textbook. He put it out in front of the receiver, where only Kirven could get it. It was perfectly placed between the numbers and it came down soft, but didn't for a moment float dangerously. Perfection.

There are still errors made and there is no mistaking that this is a young team, but there have been some good practices recently that left little that was negative to report.

Football practice, Friday, August 21

This post was written by Vanguard sports writer Allison Whited.

There seemed to be heavy emphasis on the running game Friday morning, both from the offensive side and the defensive side. Early on, the offensive line repeatedly set about creating running lanes after the snap. The offense overall is pass happy and through other practices, the running game hasn't looked threatening.

That is beginning to change a bit though. There are a couple of freshman backs that will compliment returning starter Bobby McClintock very well. Evans Okotcha and Ben Bowen show good field awareness and an ability to make small cuts to gain a few extra yards on each play. They are also fairly adroit when called on to block for the quarterback.

There were two defensive plays that have to be mentioned. Ryan Pedersen is an intelligent linebacker and plays as much with his brain as he does his body. On one snap, the coach handling the ball as the quarterback created some misdirection that looked as if it fooled the entire defense, and, while everyone on his side of the ball went one way, Pedersen went the other and made a beeline to the "quarterback".

Another impressive play was made by linebacker Erik Pedersen. In an 11-on-11 drill where the run was being pushed, Pedersen patiently waited for a hole to open, which the defense created in just a couple of seconds, and drove straight to the running back with the ball. It was a strong defensive play and it showed the entire defense’s ability to follow through.

On the special teams’ side of things, the Vikes look good. There are two competing kickers, Robert Truax and Wade Penner. Both have a pretty good foot and both are usually on target. It seems like they take turns every day looking like the better option. On the whole, they both look good and give depth at a position that can make or break a game. The long snapper is Braedyn Eagle and he is consistently on target with his snaps. He is fairly imposing and should hold up well under pressure.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Football practice, Wednesday, August 19

This post was written by Vanguard sports writer Allison Whited.

This morning, the team was divided into offense and defense at opposite ends of the field. On the offensive side, it looked pretty good. The offensive line, without the formidable rush from the defense on every snap, was able to work together to keep the quarterback safe and create lanes for the running backs. Ben Bowen and Bobby McClintock benefited from this and as a result were able to get some good runs in. On one particular play center Adam Kleffner got a great block in on his man and gave McClintock miles to run.

Watching the offensive line practice can be challenging at times. There always seem to be numerous occasions when, if they could just stay with their man or get that block in, the whole offense would have the opportunity to run more smoothly. It's just little things here and there that would make a world of difference. Kleffner's block is an example of just what good can come about when there is complete follow through after the snap.

One of the new quarterbacks, Hank Taylor, had a relatively good morning. As I have previously written, he has a problem seeing the field. This morning he was able to find receiver Daniel Wolverton twice in a row on different routes. He did, however, botch a hand off to full back Nick Kalpin.

Punter Thomas Duyndam had company this morning. Coach Glanville had receiver Zach Brown punting with him. Currently, Duyndam is the only punter on the roster, and he is also currently the only international player. Brown was last year's back up punter and will obviously continue in that role this year. Brown did a fine job, but he can certainly benefit from watching Duyndam.

Offense met defense towards the end of practice where third down situations were played out. Quarterback Drew Hubel had a couple of beautiful bombs to receivers Zach Brown and Daniel Wolverton. He retained presence of mind in the pocket and patiently waited for them to get down field and he was rewarded with about 100 passing yards on the two completions. He certainly looked every bit the starting quarterback. Presumed third string quarterback Nick Green had a nice pass under pressure to receiver Ricky Cookman.

The pass rush was successful and relentless. Outside linebackers Ryan Pedersen and Ryan Reardon and defensive lineman Siasau Matagiese all had notable rushes that ended the offense's progress. Rearson and Matagiese are both freshman, proving that Glanville did a remarkable job of recruiting his freshmen defensive class.

The ball wasn't safe when it was out of the pocket either. Kavanaugh was picked by cornerback Tracy Ford and during Ford's return, he lateraled it to fellow cornerback DeShawn Shead and then threw a block for Shead so that he might continue to advance the ball. Teamwork at some of its finest.

In the counter teamwork file, there was some grumbling on the sidelines by the receivers about defensive end Travis Beckley's tendency to get a hand on the face mask. On one play where Beckley slapped a face mask, someone even yelled out, “That's 15 yards number 92!”

On a final note, there are a lot of players on crutches and with boots on. Receiver Ray Fry and offensive lineman Moses Punzal are the latest to walk the sidelines.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Football practice, Tuesday, August 18

This post was written by Vanguard sports writer Allison Whited.

The offensive and defensive lineman practiced single man coverage this morning and it was intense to watch. Going against each other one-on-one, the defensive lineman would attempt to push his way past the offensive lineman to get to where the quarterback would hypothetically be.

During these drills, a couple of players really stood out on the defensive line. Freshman Shea Prince was lined up against center and fellow freshman Jackson Dallas. There is a 90-lb. disparity between these two in Dallas' favor, but to watch them you wouldn't have known it. Prince put himself in great position and got under Dallas' pads. From there, Dallas didn't have a chance and Prince just walked him backwards and out of the way.

Another standout on the defensive line was Conrad Davis. On one drill, he made contact with the opposing lineman and then gave a great spin move and got away. This all happened in a matter of seconds. Currently he is listed third in the depth chart at defensive end, but his abilities should garner him more playing time than that.

A standout offensive lineman this morning was Kyle Ritt. He looked strong through spring training and he continues to perform at a high enough level that he should start. Time again, regardless of his opponents size, he matched up perfectly and held them at bay. With him on the line, the quarterback should be able to breathe a bit easier.

While the lineman were sparring, the rest of the offense and defense set up against each other in mock 11-on-11 drills. The secondary was in top shape with two near interceptions by safety Jordan Brown and two back to back picks of Drew Hubel by DeShawn Shead and Tracy Ford.

One of the new quarterbacks who showed up last week is still having trouble seeing the field. Most of the time, he winds up running with the ball, but without passing, he's not gaining anything. Receiver and obvious team leader Aaron Woods took him aside and threw the ball back ands forth with him after one mean looking play. Hopefully this encourages him to keep progressing in the offense.

Speaking of Woods, what a great day he had. Towards the end of practice, with the team taking on the long field, he was Hubel's go-to guy. Two catches in a row, right up the middle, each for 20-plus yards. The thing that is evident when watching Woods on his routes is that he wants the ball. Whereas some of the receivers run their route and wait for the ball, Woods finishes the route, finds the ball, and then goes to it. This aggressive attitude is part of what makes him so dangerous to opposing defenses. He will without a doubt be exciting to watch this year.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Football practice, Monday, August 17

This post was written by Vanguard sports writer Allison Whited.

Coach Glanville was running punt/kick return drills again this morning and time and time again, wide receiver Aaron Woods shined. He always keeps one eye on the ball and the other on the approaching defenders and manages to make this level of multitasking look easy. The ball always falls between the numbers and upon reception, he puts on a burst on speed and moves that make your head swim. He should continue to be an important part of special teams like he was last year.

It was not a great day for the Vikings' quarterbacks. Both starter Drew Hubel and the team's presumed number two, Connor Kavanaugh, left a bit to be desired in today's 11-on-11 drills. The drills were conducted on the short and long fields today with much the same results on both.

Hubel consistently overthrew his receivers all morning. One might be inclined to think the routes weren't finished or the defense was getting some good bumps in, but that just wasn't the case. Any receiver he threw to was too far away from the ball to make a genuine attempt at it. There were times when the ball was too low or too high. A well-positioned ball was nary to be seen.

There is no doubting Hubel's talent and this was apparently just a bad morning. He also has some timing issues to work out with his new group of receivers. Seven of the thirteen wide receivers on the roster are new to the team this year.

Kavanaugh didn't fair any better than Hubel at today's practice. However, where Hubel made some mistakes on the physical side of things, Kavanaugh made errors from a mental standpoint that were far more egregious than Hubel's errors.

It seemed as though Kavanaugh kept seeing things that just weren't there. On one particular play, the offensive line was very stiff and gave him plenty of time to find an open receiver and complete a pass. There was no pressure being applied to him, but all he managed was a weak, wobbly pass to receiver Daniel Wolverton that was only a completion because of Wolverton's athleticism. Time in the pocket like that only happens once in a blue moon and Kavanaugh must learn to make the best of it when it happens.

By far the most unnerving situation with Kavanaugh at the helm played out on the short field. All of his receivers were covered and instead of taking off with the ball like he is apt to do or being patient until someone came loose, he threaded the ball through a wall of defenders and wound up with an incomplete pass. If the secondary had been so inclined, it would have been an easy interception. A mistake like that at the goal line has the potential to lose a game.

Kavanaugh is a good athlete and imbues the Vikings' offense with a scrambling ability, but he has a bit more to learn about the game management side of things. It will without a doubt come with time.

Cornerback Michael Williams was a bright spot in the secondary today, breaking up several passes. He never takes his eyes off of the receiver and stays physical throughout the play. Fellow cornerback Denzel Davis also had nice coverage and broke up a pass. Both of these freshman players from Texas, and both at 5-9, look like they could offer some relief during the season to help everyone else at the position stay healthy.

Two a day practices start tomorrow and it will be interesting to see the progression of the team as practice becomes more concentrated.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Football practice, Friday, August 14

This post was written by Vanguard sports writer Allison Whited.

Today's 11-on-11 drills were conducted on a shortened field. It looked as though the team was practicing the red-zone offense. Last season, the Vikings were last in the Big Sky Conference in red-zone offense. Opportunities for progress are minimized in the red-zone. A good combination of running plays and passing plays were called.

It is noteworthy to mention the quarterback situation at practice. With Tygue Howland's injury, the Vikings have less depth at the position, with just Connor Kavanaugh and Nick Green on the roster. At practice all week there has been another quarterback working with the team and today there was yet another. It is obvious watching them that they aren't nearly as experienced as the other three quarterbacks, but offensive coordinator Jim Craft has been very patient with them. After every snap he pulls them aside to explain what went wrong. Time will only tell if they find themselves on the roster, but so far it doesn't look too good.

After a week of practice, it is impossible not to have tremendous respect for what secondary coach Brandon Shelby is doing with the team. He's a quiet presence--he can't be heard yelling like the other position coaches. Though he only joined the team in February, his presence can be felt all over the line. It doesn't hurt that the secondary is heavy with talent, but his impact is undeniable.

When the defense lines up, Shelby comes up behind his players and will slightly move them or point something out to them. With these small tweaks, he sets them up for success. Almost without fail, every time he does this, whomever he was speaking with is either responsible for or in on the stop.

The players buy into his coaching too. After they receive an adjustment from him, you can see them looking for key things indicative of what the offense is doing and they become more productive. The secondary consistently looks good and under Shelby's guidance it seems posed to continue to impress.

PSU Vikings vs. OSU Beavers fan bus & tailgate!

Join PSU alumni and friends as they travel to Corvallis to watch the Viks take on the Pac-10 Beavers.

Saturday, Sept 5
Departure from PSU - TBD
Kickoff: 11:35 a.m.

$48.00 per person includes:
  • Roundtrip transportation to OSU on a deluxe Raz motor coach (personal food and drink allowed on bus)
  • Tailgate lunch with hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, softdrinks
  • Access to private No Host bar (beer $4/wine $5)
  • Reserved private Green & White party area
Game tickets are NOT included in the price.*

Register for the fan bus and tailgate at

*Need a game ticket? Contact Jim at 503-725-8210 or e-mail

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Football practice, Wednesday, August 12

This post was written by Vanguard writer Allison Whited.

There was plenty of rain to go around this morning at practice and it was a good opportunity for the players who have come here from other less rainy regions to get acquainted with the Oregon weather.

On the whole, the rain didn't seem to affect anyone's vision or ball handling skills. There were a couple of exceptions: wide receiver Keitrell Anderson dropped the ball on a punt reception, and center Tyler Staley had a snap to quarterback Drew Hubel that never left the ground. These things are bound to happen, but as the season and rain wear on, the likelihood of a repeat of these mistakes should diminish.

The offensive line looked better today than they have at the last two practices. They were able to stay together and create running lanes for running backs Bobby McClintock and Ben Bowen. Lineman Zach Dias continually stuck with the man he was blocking throughout practice, receiving praise from the coaches. If he can continue to show that kind of focus, it will help to take pressure off the quarterback, who usually seems a bit rushed, regardless of who it is under center.

The defense looked great today and safety Michael Almond stood out in particular. On one particular play, he read the offense like it was a child's book. Watching Hubel's eyes, he followed the pass and came up with a textbook interception. He played as if the pass was intended for him the whole time; there would be no other receiver and that was evident before the ball was even snapped. It was just incredible to watch.

On another play, Almond was lined up on the right, a little behind the line. Secondary coach Brandon Shelby came up behind him and moved him directly onto the line. When the ball was snapped, Almond was able to find a clear lane to the ball carrier and end the play. It was impressive to watch a former player, Shelby, impart his knowledge of offense to a young, very obviously talented player and see the good that can come from it.

Wide receiver Raymond Fry had a good day today as well. The past couple of practices, he has blended into the background a little bit, but today he caught a couple of passes and fought for more yards after and he had a good catch on a punt return. If he can consistently produce, he will be a great asset for the Vikings.

There were a couple of little skirmishes between players here and there, but there were more smiles on the coaches' faces today. Hopefully, there are even more tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

VIDEO: First football practice, Monday, August 10

Football practice, Tuesday, August 11

This post was written by Vanguard writer Allison Whited.

The weather this morning was beautiful and it offered a nice reprieve from yesterday's sun. Practice was quieter today than yesterday and the media hoopla has receded a little bit.

Something I would like to make note of that I did not mention regarding yesterday’s practice was an injury to freshman free safety Justin Lilley. At the end of a drill yesterday, Lilley slipped on the turf and lay there for some time after. I looked and looked for him to see if he came back and I could not find him. Today I spotted him—on the sideline with crutches and his leg in some kind of brace. Before his injury yesterday he looked great and exercised good control when going through some drills.

The coaches were exploring who would be best suited for the punt return team today and it was fantastic to watch. A group of players would line up and once a punt was kicked to the returner, they would take off after him. The coaching staff implored them to do well and reminded them they would be watching video of the drill later on to determine who would make it.

Cornerback Tracy Ford had a great return, as did Aaron Woods. Quarterback Connor Kavanaugh got a piece of the return action too, though he had a pretty ugly drop on one of his two attempts.

Linebacker Ryan Pedersen had a great tackle and strip, and defensive end Joe Ma'aseia had a perfect tackle towards the end of practice, really showing what coach Glanville's seniors are capable of.

Football practice, Monday, August 10

This post was written by Vanguard writer Allison Whited.

Ahh... Football is back on the Portland State campus. Coach Glanville and company were out for the first practice of the 2009-10 season and it was a great scene to behold. There were some new faces, like new offensive line coach Brad Davis, and some old ones, like newly minted offensive coordinator Jim Craft. But all around, there were smiles and the team seems ready to get the new season under way.

I will be writing a blog entry after every practice I attend, just to make note of a few things that caught my eye and to keep everyone current on the news coming from the field. I will do my best—just remember that far too much goes on for this to suffice as a complete report.

After practice, Glanville seemed very convinced that the level of talent on the field this year is great. This is a sentiment I have heard echoed more than once from the coaching staff. In hand with this belief in the talent on the roster has come a kind of confidence. When asked if he felt like this was finally his team, Glanville said, "Yes, for the first time in three years."

The seniors playing on the team had a lot of confidence yesterday as they carried out their drills. Linebacker Erik Pedersen was quick and controlled when running through the pads. Cornerback Tracy Ford read his receiver all the way and knocked down a guaranteed touchdown pass. Free safety Jordan Brown exhibited some incredible speed, showing that he has come back from the injury last year that kept him off the field.

The newcomers on the team struggled a little bit today. Linebacker Jaycob Shoemaker, who I have heard Glanville is excited about, had some trouble running through the pads when he was hit and he stumbled out at the end of them. Fullback Ben Bowen dropped some balls but tried to redeem himself with strong runs after every one of them.

I didn't cover the team last year, so I am less aware of where they're coming from, but it looks like where they are headed to is a good, solid place. With the first game less than a month away, only time will tell, but after today, I am excited to find out.