8/10 and 8/11 Practice News and Notes

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Didn't get a chance to get these practice updates up last night (or the night before after practice), so I'll package them together here. On 8/10, the team practiced in shells, and yesterday the team was in full pads for the first time. As with any other writer covering a team, I loved the intensity of the guys out there and it has got me ready for the season to start.

Today is the first day of two-a-days, but I will not make it out there for live tweeting. I will talk to some people and figure out how everything went and if there is anything notable to report. First scrimmage is on Monday at BB&T Field, and we will certainly have somebody out there covering that.

Click through the jump for notes from practices on Wednesday and Thursday.

 

  • The primary thing that I have been watching for in the last two days is how our O-Line is shaping up. When the D-Line goes vs the O-Line in one-on-one drills, it is often hard to tell how good the O-Line is overall as a unit. The defense has had the upper hand in the one-on-ones, but the O-line has looked pretty solid as a whole for it to be this early.
  • Once again, Derricus Ellis really has stuck out in the one-on-ones, and also made some great plays in the team 11 on 11's. He is going to get a fair amount of playing time behind Joey Ehrmann, and with his speed should be utilized a lot on blitzes and getting to the QB.
  • Tristan Dorty has shown a ton of strength in the drills, and has overpowered THE Mr. Joe Looney a couple of times. If Dorty and Wilber can both prove to be threats in getting to the QB on opposite sides then offenses in the ACC will have a fun time with that come conference season.
  • Speaking of Wilber, looked like he was a little banged up and was sitting out some drills both days, not sure what's going on there, but will ask him about it tomorrow at Media Day.
  • On Wednesday, the best O-Line performers were Weaver, Looney, and Godfey, and the best D-Line/LB performers were Derricus Ellis, Tristan Dorty, and Joey Ehrmann (excluding Nikita, who always brings it).
  • The defense has overpowered the offense pretty much all over the field in the skeletons and the 11 on 11's so far. That makes sense because of the timing routes required by a lot of the offense. The O-line is also still working hard on continuity and cohesiveness, and it is hard to get a grasp on how good they will be this early in practice.
  • Bud Noel is one of the most talkative, jacked up players that I have seen in my 4 years of attending practices. He is almost always yelling about something and running all over the field to congratulate his teammates. That's gotta be something that the coaches love to see. Would like to see him forget about plays a little quicker though. He got beat a couple of teams and seemingly checked out mentally for the next few plays.
  • While talking about corners, I will say that Kenny Okoro has really stuck out to me in coverage, as well as closing in on the ball. I would think that he has gotten one of corner spots locked up for now, and the other one is up for grabs between Noel, and A.J. Marshall.
  • Josh Harris has been extremely explosive during team drills, and has busted 3 runs that would have been touchdowns in a real game situation. His speed is incredible, and he is in elite company around college football because of how fast he can read and react to the field in front of him. Just an electrifying player to watch.
  • Another running back that has stuck out to me is Nick Knott. It must be because he is related to Chris Givens, but the kid has a ton of speed as well. He will in all likelihood be the 3rd string running back, and I wouldn't be surprised if he had a couple of big plays this season.
  • True freshman Orville Reynolds is also putting a lot of pressure on Coach Grobe to not redshirt him the pure speed that he has. Although I doubt Grobie will burn a redshirt on Reynolds strictly for kick and punt returns (especially with the other options we have in Camp, Harris, Scooby and Givens), but if he keeps it up, it will be hard not to find a spot out on the field for him this year.
  • Airyn Willis has also been pretty impressive, and is seemingly picking up on the offense quickly. Every time that I have watched him run routes he finds a soft spot in the zone and is usually open. That is the sign of a great route runner. They are pretty crisp as well, which is refreshing to see.
  • A couple of players were not in full pads yesterday, but none of them looked to serious including: Ramon Booi (apparent leg injury), Morgan Harris (hamstring), GodsPower Offor (unsure), the aforementioned Kyle Wilber (not sure), and Tanner Price had a brace of some sort on his throwing arm. I will repeat that these all looked to be "start of practice" injuries and nothing too serious.
  • The defense has really been all over the field from what I have seen this week. Blitzes have come from everywhere on the field, and the defense shows blitzes on every play. The view from the QB at our defense looks the same on pretty much every play, but with the showed blitzes and delayed blitzes, it is nearly impossible to read where the pressure will be coming from. If our secondary can improve from last year, a lot of pressure will be taken off of them because of the front line getting to the QB/forcing bad throws. That was a big problem last year, and should be nice to see this year.
  • We have a ton of height at WR with Brandon Terry, Terence Davis and Matt James, and we have been going deep to them quite a bit in the team drills too. James has drawn the ire of Coach Galloway more than any other of the guys combined, but he takes it pretty well and bounces back quickly.
  • Before practice yesterday, Cyhl Quarles jokingly told Sherman Ragland III that he was coming after him, which I found mildly entertaining.
  • Alex Kinal got some punting reps yesterday in a segment of practice, and kicked most of them between 40-50 yards, with the longest of 49. That was with a brief headwind, so that took a couple of yards off. The best thing about his punts is the hangtime that was on most of them. When I timed them (which of course has a huge chance of user error), most of them were over 4.3, and a couple were near the 5 second mark. That is pretty impressive and will result in a lot of fair catches by the opposing punt returners.
All in all the confidence in the team is up, and the whole team seems to be gelling much better than last year. Of course when a team is practicing everything is zero sum, but the defense seems to be doing quite well in the early going, even in the pass skeleton, which says a lot about how our secondary has improved. There have been a couple of minor skirmishes/fights, but nothing too serious. The older offensive and defensive guys have been quick to protect their own younger guys, and that has resulted in a few heated confrontations. 

I am really jacked up for the season to start after these practices, and can't wait to see the scrimmages with the guys flying around hitting each other. Cautiously optimistic is the view that I am taking right now, and I am very pleased with what I have seen so far.
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