Day 3 of Fall camp brought something new to Rogers field… shoulder pads. A nice breeze took the edge off another hot day as the 2011 Cougs got one step closer to their first full pads practice scheduled for Thursday. No doubt, in order to keep us sideline jockeys entertained, the coaches changed things up a bit from the first couple days’ routine. As usual there was lots to see.
Read on for more…
Tuesday’s practice featured a new scrimmage format where instead of split squads on both fields, the whole team got together for some good old fashioned 1’s vs. 1’s and 2’s vs. 2’s. As has become a predictable result… Jeff Tuel fired a TD pass to Marquess Wilson. I think it’s safe to say after a full camp of guarding Wilson, our corners are going to be excited to face some Idaho State receivers. The defense had its moments too, including a big play from Brandon Rankin, blowing up the O-line to tackle Ricky Galvin in the backfield, and what may be the hit of the camp so far, as Tyree Toomer caught Isaiah Barton trying to make a catch over the middle and absolutely blasted him out of his cleats, breaking up the completion in the process.
Of note as the 1’s and 2’s lined up, they did not include CJ Mizell who is one practice behind after missing Sunday for personal reasons, so he is not in shoulder pads yet. He is practicing and frankly, he looks like he could have gotten out there even without the shoulder pads and been just fine, but I guess the coaches are going to error on the side of prudence. With CJ on the sideline, rookie linebacker Chester Sua got snaps as the #2 MIK linebacker. The coaches have stated that he is one of the freshmen who have a chance to play this year, so getting these snaps early in camp should really help him along. He already has very good size and is giving Sekope Kaufusi a run for the “best hair on the team” title, as he has that Troy Polamalu-style fro flowing out the back of his helmet.
At one point the coaches tried to test the upward limits of my attention span by breaking the skill position players into two groups for simultaneous skelly on both fields. There was a lot to observe and I positioned myself where I thought I could keep tabs on both at the same time. It wasn’t easy, but I did see lots of good battles and some real highlights from some of the newcomers. On the scout team side Tana Pritchard was all over the place making a great leaping interception at the goal line and absolutely blowing up freshman running back, Kruger Story who caught a swing pass in front of him. Freshman tight end Mansel Simmons also hauled in a highlight reel catch on a ball thrown high over the middle near the goal line.
As the squads got back together for another scrimmage, the highlight plays kept coming. One play that really exemplified the level of competition on display in this years camp was a touchdown strike from Tuel to Karstetter in the back of the end zone. On the play, Nolan Washington had outstanding coverage, anticipating Karstetter’s move to the inside and sticking with him like glue as he crossed the end zone. Only a perfect throw from Tuel and a great job by Karstetter of using every inch of his height and leaping advantage led to the touchdown. These guys are definitely making each other better.
But the offense didn’t win every battle. On a similar route, Daniel Simmons caught Marquess Wilson making a leaping grab right at the goal line and was able to knock the ball out. These two have been sharing a lot of good natured chatter and after the play Simmons pulled Wilson up by his pads, and showed him the way back to his offensive huddle, as if to say, “get the hell outa my backfield sucka”. Simmons, who had been victimized for some big plays on his side of the field in the earlier scrimmage was no doubt anxious to come back and re-establish his turf. This scrimmage also featured a great leaping catch by heralded red-shirt freshman receiver Kristoff Williams who showed why there has been so much buzz about his potential.
To end the scrimmage we got our first really good look at kicker Andrew Furney this year. The first thing to note is that Furney has a lot of leg. No matter how far they moved him back, he always got plenty of distance on the ball. He missed a couple kicks wide, and he had one blocked that came out a little low, but once he got things straightened out he was blasting them through the uprights.
In the comments yesterday, RightPaw asked “Any tidbits on Galvin and Mason? TEs?”
Good question, RightPaw. The short answer is, Galvin and Mason look great. Last season when I showed up at camp there was a lot of buzz around Galvin and every time he touched the ball, it seemed like something exciting happened. This year it is just more of the same. He is the real deal, quick and explosive, but despite his size he is just hard as nails and doesn’t shy away from contact at all. He will make things happen in the ground game this year. As for Mason, he is almost the same type of back, quick, compact and tough. His speed was hyped a lot and it is no joke, he can scoot. Im not sure if we will play him this year, or not, but when his time comes he could be a good one too. Also, don’t sleep on Carl Winston and the big bruiser, Logwone Mitz. We have a very nice stable of running backs.
As for tight ends, this position has undergone a real facelift. The top two TE’s are Andrei Lintz and Aaron Dunn who are both big and athletic. Also, as mentioned a couple times, I really like Mansel Simmons. He came to camp physically mature enough to play right away and I have seen him make some nice catches already. I still don’t see us throwing to the TEs very much in scrimmages, but I’ll keep en eye on that part of the offense for sure. Thanks for the question RightPaw!
I’ll be back up at camp today and be sure to stay tuned for a new feature we’ll be bringing to you for the first time very soon! Until then, GO COUGS!