With Thursday afternoon's practice you could definitely tell that the demanding
schedule for the Beavers was starting to take its toll as the team looked a
bit sluggish. The offense struggled at times to move the ball and the offensive
line had by far their worst day of fall camp. Offensive Line Coach Mike Cavanaugh let his group know that they weren't playing up to snuff by having one of the strength and conditioning coaches run them through several grueling sets of exercises including bear crawls, mountain climbers, and sets of push-ups and sit-ups where they would have to pause half through each repetition.
Several things can actually be attributed to the poor play of the offense,
with the first being fatigue and injury. Secondly, for any questions about the
defense that have been raised, they can be put to sleep as this group is just
as good as any of the groups of years past. In fact, the front seven might be
better than ever as the defensive line looks absolutely fantastic. With Stephen Paea and Latu Moala becoming absolute man eaters in the middle, it has freed
up the defensive ends to apply pressure on the edges.
Throughout all of camp, I felt that today's practice was the only day where
things just weren't clicking for the offense. While some of it is definitely
attributed to the above mentioned reasons, another is obviously the youth of
the offense, but I think today's mishaps can mostly be attributed to center
Alex Linnenkohl being given the day off. While he was padded up for the beginning of practice, as independent drills moved to live 11 man drills, Alex shelled his pads for the day. As the coaching staff and all of the onlookers came to
find out, Linnenkohl is not only the leader among the linemen but could also
be considered the most important part to our offense.
As noted, the day belonged to the defense as they came at the offense with
a tenacity, blitzing from all over the place. Dwight Roberson led the pass rush as he made several plays in coverage and also collected a handful of sacks.
Tim Clark also got to do a little jiggy dance as he picked up a sack on a blitz
from his corner position.
Gabe Miller was also a handful for the offensive line. His transition from
tight end to defensive end has been seamless, as he was in the backfield constantly
today. I am really excited about the play of our DE's as we should see a rotation
of 5 players this year. Kevin Frahm and Ben Terry should do a more than adequate job handling 1st and 2nd downs, while Matt LaGrone, Miller and Taylor Henry will see time in passing downs.
For the first time with full pads on, the true 1st team defense got to play
as a unit as Lance Mitchell made his return after sitting out since the first practice with an injury. And Mitchell made his presence known early, as he made
a pick during 11 man drills. As important as Linnenkohl is to the offensive
line, Mitchell is to the secondary as he is the vocal leader back there. It
also helps that he is a ballhawking safety that makes plays.
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