August 7, 2006

Fall Camp 8/6: Sights and Sounds

Here is a new daily camp feature we're going to call "sights and sounds" and the purpose of this piece is to give our readers a greater feel for what is taking place on the field on a day-to-day basis and really get an understanding of the specific coaching mechanics going on and a better feel for the camaraderie and spirit of the players during camp.

- After a play where Keegan Herring was sprung for a long run by a Shawn Lauvao, Herring was screaming at the top of his lungs from at least 30 yards downfield, "That's what I love, Shawn, that's what I love, Shawn," and then he ran back to Lauvao and literally jumped all over him and smothered him with further compliments out of earshot. This is the type of play that is indicative Herring's infectious character and high energy.

- Michael Jones blocked a punt and about a dozen of his teammates started randomly saying - actually, they were yelling -- "Mike Jones" while one or two others made it a call-and-response session by saying, "Who?" and that would last for about 10-15 seconds whenever Jones would make a similarly impressive play. You can't give them a lot of points for originality on this, as it's an obvious play on the well known rapper from Houston of the same name, a rapper who became famous for the same type of banter, but it's a positive affirmation that keeps things fun and light.

- One of the more impressive things from Sunday's practice was seeing Randy Hill give some of the youngsters at running back like Dimitri Nance some very pointed and highly technical instruction and after closely observing the players in drills. And equally impressive, Nance and his teammates did a nice job of listening, and then immediately implementing the changes in their subsequent repetitions.

- We mentioned coach Al Simmons in our earlier story regarding Sunday's practice but his habit of calling players over to him while the rest of the team continued game situations was nice to see. He has a very communicative style that I think will translate well with the players. He does this more frequently than the other coaches and his one-on-one approach allows him to make sure the player -- someone who usually just screwed up -- understands exactly what is going on. Often, Simmons would watch the following play out of the same alignment and point out what he was looking for and why.

- We have touched on a number of the incoming freshmen and how they looked and played on Sunday, but some others that went unmentioned were more than deserving of some praise, including these two: tight end Lance Evbuomwan, who has a huge physical frame, long arms, enormous hands that are soft, and he moves extremely well for his size. Evbuomwan is already about as big as any other tight end on the roster, but with his body type, he has the ability to wind up being a relatively lean, agile 265-270 pounds; safety Ryan McFoy, who regularly seemed to be in the middle of the action and appeared to have very nice instincts and mobility.

- Freshman Danny Sullivan seemed to be getting a little bit of extra attention from Dirk Koetter in some of the quarterback-specific drills, primarily as it relates to posture in the pocket and physical positioning/footwork. Sullivan is tall and rangy-looking with a nice frame that will add probably 15-20 pounds in the next year. He doesn't have a cannon of an arm but it's certainly more than adequate and probably even above average for a freshman at this level. Of the three quarterback vying for that third-team spot, he was the most impressive in our opinion based on this one viewing alone (which, granted, doesn't really say much).

- New defensive line coach Grady Stretz has a no-nonsense approach to his teachings. He's not going to do a lot of yelling, I don't think, and he's not going to be very repetitive to the point where it comes across as brow-beating or gets players to the point of tuning out. He will say something and he expects to be absorbed, and I would imagine that if it's not appropriately applied, players will hear about it in a way that clearly and articulately gets the point across. He strikes me as being very professional and business-like in his approach but not the point of detachment. And his technical understanding and teaching of the game appears to be very well developed.

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