Today’s Herd practice session can be summed up with one word, physical. As the second week draws to a conclusion, tempers are short and contact continues to increase each day.
“The guys are anxious to play somebody else,” head coach Doc Holliday said.
Today was by far the most physical practice that has occurred since camp started. Maybe it’s the weather or a crazy super moon, but tempers today were a ticking time bomb that exploded.
Sinclair lays the smack down on the turf
Before today’s team stretching started, strength and conditioning coach Scott Sinclair decided to inject some energy into the portion of practice that sucked the life from the teach yesterday. With the players lined up in the end zone, Sinclair dropped the ‘People’s Elbow’ twice on the new turf at the Joan before delivering two thunderous Ric Flair like foot stomps. The players were amped by the display of Sinclair as the energy continued to stay high the entire session.
Things are getting deep
During the first set of 11-on-11 drills, the first team offense consisted of Devon Johnson in the backfield with Tommy Shuler, Angelo Jean-Louis and Davonte Allen at wide receiver and Eric Frohnapfel at tight end. Deon-Tay McManus also ran some reps with the ones at tight end.
Second team reps went to Stew Butler in the backfield with Deandre Reaves, Demetrius Evans and Craig Wilkins at receiver and Joe Woodrum at tight end.
The defense also ran its ones during a scout offense. Ra’Shawde Myers and Armonze Daniel worked at defensive end with James Rouse and Jarquez Samuel at defensive tackle. The linebackers were DJ Hunter, Jermaine Holmes and Evan McKelvey while Corey Tindal, AJ Leggett, Taj Letman and Keith Baxter made up the secondary.
Devon brings the thunder
It will be interesting to see how teams attack Johnson when trying to tackle the 243-pound back. One thing that is clear from camp, arm tackles and going high does not work. Word to the wise when tackling the tailback, bring an army.
Johnson has dished out the pain every day this week and today was no different. The only difference was the recipient as redshirt freshman Raheim Huskey tried to step in front of Johnson on a sweep and suffered the consequences. Image a car hitting a car at 60 mph. I’ll let you paint your own picture.
Johnson had several nice runs today after making his own holes when the line did not fully open the gap. Johnson scored on a 5-yard dive play after being hit after crossing the line of scrimmage. He never stopped chopping his legs while driving into the end zone. Johnson’s power reminds me of a young Jerome Bettis. Johnson’s pass protection of Cato was on spot again today as he picked up Samuels who busted through a depleted offensive line. Cato was able to roll out and eventually hooked up with Shuler after a nice double move by the receiver for a gain of 15.
Next man up
With Remi Watson leaving practice yesterday with an injury, Butler is taking the second team reps. Butler had some nice runs in the red zone including a double cut that finished with six. Tony Pittman took advantage of Watson’s absence and had some decent runs. Pittman shifts well for a 204-pound back allowing him to get his direction headed north and south as soon as he has a lane to shoot. Pittman showed today in the final 11-on-11 drill that Johnson is not the only guy who can drop the hammer after he knocked Arnold Blackmon off his feet and a run off tackle. Blackmon has Pittman by 39 pounds but ended on the losing end of the battle.
Defense can lay the lumber too
While working in a scout team drill, first team linebacker DJ Hunter introduced himself to running back David Gaydosz. It’s safe to say if Gaydosz sees 22 on the other side of a hole; he will do something to elude contact. Hunter sent the redshirt freshman hard to the turf.
Tiquan Lang returned to full contact action today for the first time since last week and found himself delivering a jolt to freshman receiver Gator Green. Lang’s contact would have probably warranted a penalty.
Just catch the ball
Drops are a plenty for some players in camp and today was no difference. The most devastating drop ended up as a pick-6 for Huskey. Gunnar Holcombe came to Hyleck Foster on the sideline and as the freshman turned up field the ball squirted from his hands and directly in the arms of Huskey who had nothing but daylight in front of him.
Wilkins dropped a sure touchdown pass on a post route from Cato but made a nice move on Cato’s next in the end zone on a comeback route for the score. Wilkins appears to have already slipped to a back-up outside receiver and he has not been doing himself any favors during practice to stop the downward slide.
Evans had the most spectacular drop of the day as the deflected off his hands and fell into Butler’s grasp that was standing nearby for a touchdown. With Reaves moving to the outside spot, Evans will be backing up Shuler in the slot. His biggest problem is he has several guys behind him with nice hands and better speed that is hungry for the field.
Biggest Hit of the Day
Usually the offensive line is the easily forgotten when talking about big plays. However, Chris Jasperse took the crown today after he and Samuels locked horns. After their first hook-up resulted in a heated exchanged, the next play earned the award. The duo locked for nearly eight seconds before the Herd’s center took Samuel off his feet as he delivered a 294-pound pancake. They had one more exchange in which Jasperse got the better of as well before giving each other a nice pat on the backside and helmet and returning to their respective huddles.
Has Cato found a deep threat?
After losing his favorite red zone target in Gator Hoskins last season, Cato not only has three tight ends to toss to, he has several legitimate deep ball threats as well. Today, Cato introduced the small crowd in attendance to one of them. Working in the 11-on-11 drill, Cato hit Jean-Louis in stride on a jet-route down the seam for a 65-yard touchdown. The crowd applauded in support of the scoring strike.
Cato continues to replace the 26 that was etched into his vision with 83 as Frohnapfel continues to prove he is a target that can get trusted. Cato hit Frohnapfel on an out route that moved the ball 15 yards and may have been a possible score. The ball was downed at the 5 but only because the tight end had initial contact made at that point. Frohnapfel did push forward to pay dirt, but the drill was moved back to the 5.
Cato connected with Joe Woodrum on a misdirection route that confused Corey Tindal who allowed Woodrum to release for a wide out touchdown in the back corner. Cato raced to Woodrum and gave him a chest bump for the score.
Brandon Byrd returned to practice today after sitting out since last Thursday’s massive hit with Cortez Carter. Byrd worked out in helmet and shorts during the running back’s drills. Coach Holliday said after practice that Byrd should be back to action soon.
Ryan Yurachek returned to action today after going lite in yesterday’s session. He appeared to be moving in an out of his routes with discomfort.
Remi Watson was in pads today but sat out. Watson left practice yesterday during a protection drill. No word on his injury.
Michael Selby and Blake Brooks were once again in sunglasses for the second straight day.
K-Rod worked on the bike while wearing his left arm in a sling. His left forearm area was heavily iced.
Donaldven Manning continues to work with the trainers. He has yet to workout in a Herd uniform in camp.
Justin Hunt spent his practice on the bike and working with the trainers. He is wearing a soft knee brace on his right knee.
Darryl Roberts started practice on the bike then left after doing some light work with the trainers on the sideline. Roberts later returned but did not participate.
Tidbits from the Herd
Cato adds his name to yet another award watch list as the senior was named to the Manning Award watch list earlier today.
USA Today continued its countdown of all 128 teams today by releasing teams 22 and 23. Washington took the No. 22 spot while Florida secured No. 22. The clue offered for the team that is ranked No. 21 does not match with the Herd suggesting a Top 20 ranking is in order.
Practice finished with a strange aura hovering overhead. Tempers flared several times throughout the session with a fight erupting between the offense and defense during the 11-on-11 drills. While it the skirmish was most pushing and shoving, the tension in the air between the two units could be cut with a knife.
The team completes its final two-a-day practice tomorrow with sessions beginning at 9:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. before conducting a scrimmage Saturday at 7 p.m. Only members of the Big Green Club or students with a valid ID are admitted to the scrimmage session.