August 13, 2011

GBK: Saturday's Scrimmage

Although approximately 85% of the "A" squad roster has already been determined by the coaching staff, Saturday's scrimmage remained as an opportunity for much to be accomplished from the players point of view.

There remained the opportunity for depth chart status, along with moving from just special teams to perhaps receiving reps within the rotation of a player's position or simply out perform a teammate where the coaches' decision is still undetermined.

Practice kicked off in typical fashion with warmups followed by individuals drills. Then the team broke out in some one-on-one fun/work and then offensive/defensive skelly.

One-on-One: WR's vs. DB's

During the wide receivers versus the defensive backs, there was some very solid competition, where you could hear the ooh's and aah's from the fans in attendance.

Although freshman receiver, Chevaughn Lawrence needs be more consistent ... he was surely that during the warm-ups and the one on one drills today, as he demonstrated very soft hands, quality route running, even though he was wearing the "blue" jersey today.

On one play, Lawrence beat fellow freshman, cornerback Marcus Jackson and you could hear cornerback coach Tony Coaxum yell out, "Come on Marcus".

But then again, Coach Coaxum was voicetrous throughout the afternoon.

Wide receiver E.J. Tucker continues to shine as he ran a smooth out and up pattern and left cornerback Ahmad Nasir where he went as Tucker ran under Max Jenkins pass for six.

Things were all bad for defensive backs as cornerback Waverly Washington, who may now be called upon more so due to Antuan Aaron's season ending injury .... where he showed great recovery skills as he stepped in front of a pass intended for Rob Wright, but just couldn't hold unto the ball.

Sandwiched in between the two aforementioned segments of practice was the simulated kicking and punting game. During the kick return and coverage, the fans saw slotback Raymond Maples and cornerback Josh Jackson as the returners ... albeit the coverage team was only allowed to play "two hand" touch with Jackson and Maples.

Kicker Eric Osteen showed a very strong leg as his kickoffs were consistently finding their way to the goal line. Special team coach Joe Ross will take that every time and rest will be up to the coverage team.

Punter Colin Walk was equally as impressive and on the end of his punts, was last year's #1 punt returner, Josh Jackson, while Jonathan Crucitti served as his backup.

But the main attraction for the afternoon would be the series the first team offense versus the scout team, as we as the first team defense versus the scout offense.

This also included the 2nd team defense versus the scout team and at the end, Ellerson had "B" squad out there to play some football as well.

The first team offense saw an offensive line of Will Wilson at center; guards Frank Allen and Joe Bailey and tackles Mike McDermott and Brad Kelly.

In his familiar spot under center was junior quarterback Trent Steelman, with the trio of backs in Jared Hassin(FB), Maples (SB) and jack of all trades, Crucitti (SB).

Both Malcolm Brown and Brian Cobbs were on the shelf today, as they could be seen wearing the "red" jerseys.

At wide receiver you had senior Davyd Brooks and sophomore Anthony Stephens, who continues to emerge out there. Stephens' development, along with some of the younger talent like Tucker and Lawrence, seems to taken some of the pressure off of Brooks, who appears more comfortable than in previous seasons.

The second team offense saw Jenkins at the helm, with Brian Austin and Terrence Baggett at the slots, with Larry Dixon at fullback.

The staff took today's opportunity to interchange the backfield combination, where at times, Dixon would run with Crucitti and Maples, as well as the rotation at receiver with Brooks, Stephens and Tucker. Also getting reps at receiver was sophomore Jared McFarlin, who almost looks like he could be a tight end.

On the first series, the Steelman lead offense broke off 4-5 yards per clip, where the junior quarterback eventually hit paydirt from 29 yards out, as he did a great job in selling the fake handoff to Hassin and darted around left end. This was followed by Alex Carlton's extra point , as well as a simulated 20 yard field goal. Carlton's performance is just another confirmation that the senior kicker will be a weapon this season.

Now it was the first team defense that had an opportunity to return the favor and they wasted little time in doing so. Rover back Reggie Nesbit stepped in front of a pass on the first play and 6-foot-2, 190 pound sophomore returned it 50 yards for the score.

You could hear the sidelines yell out .... Reggieeeee, as he may his way up the right sidelines untouched.

"It felt great," said Nesbit after Saturday's scrimmage. "We got the call from the sideline and we all yelled out, so we were all on one page. I just dropped into my zone and tried to make the best play that I could."
This was moral booster for the first team defense that was minus 2/3 of their most experience players. Along Aaron being out, Captain and linebacker, Steve Erzinger did not participate in today's scrimmage.

Nesbit was also active against the run, but it was not unusual to see 4 or 5 players around the ball carrier.

Speaking of active, Josh Jackson appears to have taken his game up a notch and on a couple of occasions, Geoffrey Bacon made his presence felt.

The first team defense saw players shuffle in and out; Ty Shrader and Lyle Beloney saw reps at free and strong safety respectively.

But to the 2nd offense's credit, they were able to sustain a drive that saw them make their way into the end zone from yards out on quarterback bootleg off left tackle.

Although Dixon's carries were limited, he was able show why he is one of the freshmen who will receive reps this season.

Cornerback Robert Speidel who was running with the 2nd team defense made a nice interception and return.

Freshman quarterback received a few reps, as he was seen lining up with Dan McGue at fullback, along with slotbacks Austin and fellow freshman, Baggett.

Sophomore slotback Scott Williams scored from 8 yards.

Inside The Huddle

Jared Hassin, Fullback

On today's scrimmage

"It felt great out there. It was a culmination of two solid weeks of camp. It felt to get out there with the one's and get a great scout look for the defense and get to play live football for the first time in a couple of weeks."

On the 2011 season

"We are going to compete in every game. Our offense is certainly one that is going to put a lot of pressure on every defense unit we play. We're an aggressive style offense and we really do have some weapons and we are really looking forward to getting out there and targeting on 19 days."

On the other weapons

"I have totaled confidence in both Dan (McGue) and Larry (Dixon). They are not only my brothers, but they are great players. Dan has that experience and gets in there and is a hard nose football player .... Larry's the same. He has a lot of athletism and potential to be a very good football player for the program. So having them behind me is really exciting and it's going to lessen my load. That will keep me healthy and it's going to be a great year."

Reggie Nesbit, Strong Safety

On his new role

"I'm on the field with ten other guys and I have to do my part in helping them in completing the overall mission."

"Playing the Sam is way different than playing the Mike. It's fun, I'm getting use to it and with the coaches putting in different situations and challenging me. Plus I have the experience of Erzinger and all the other upperclassmen to help me along."

Jarrett Mackey, Quick Defensive End

On wearing #34

"{Laughing} Yeah, 92 is out ... change position and change numbers."

On the today's defense:

"It felt great, along the one's, but we missed Steve though ... You could tell it was a big difference not have Erzinger back there. But it felt good and I like our defense ... we were swarming around."

On losing CB, Antuan Aaron for the season.

"That is a big blow. We know that Antuan was one the veterans on the defense, especially at the corner. So we a freshman take his spot in L.J. (Harris) and he did a good job, I hearing good things about him, working hard and listening to what everyone has to say to him. So hopefully he catch up to speed real quick and fill in at Antuan's job."

Notes:

With Aaron's football career coming to an abrupt end, both Waverly Washington and L.J. Harris are the two corners most ready to step up and play at this stage of the game.

Look for Brown, Cobbs and Erzinger all to be ready to go over the next several days.

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