Friday, August 28, 2009

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.

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