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.