August 14, 2009

Strapping on the pads for Day 5

Friday's practice was the first practice with pads, which meant that things could really get going down in the trenches.

Both the offensive and defensive lines went hard at each other with both looking excellent at times. There was definitely a raised level of physicality stemming from the one-on-ones to 11 man drills.

On the offensive side of the line, it looks as if we have a bon-a-fide position battle between freshman Michael Philipp & sophomore Grant Johnson at left tackle. Earlier this week, Philipp appeared to be a step slow as defensive ends Kevin Frahm and company were having their way with the freshman.

What a difference a couple days of practice with Coach Mike Cavanaugh and the comfort of being in full pads can make! Philipp was dominant today in one-on-ones, showcasing great footwork. Later on in live 11 man drills, he was tenacious in his run blocking and it was amazing how quickly he passes off his first blocking assignment and moves up to the second level for his next block.

On the other hand, Johnson has been equally impressive, displaying a solid punch and great footwork. One thing that Johnson does have working for him is that he can play all three positions on the line.

During one series today he was lined up with the 1st team at LT, then the next series he was at C with the 2nd team, and after a quick break he filled in for Ryan Pohl at G for a series. Knowing that Coach Cav likes the kind of lineman that can line up anywhere along the line, it appears that Johnson currently is the leader to be starting at LT, with Johnson currently with the 1st team about 65% of the time.

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