Friday, August 14, 2009

Longball's Afternoon Practice Report

Hello again everyone. I'm a little late getting you my notes from afternoon practice so I apologize. I did see some interesting stuff and snapped a few pictures to share, so better late than never, here we go...

Under gray skies and occasional light showers the veterans had a spirited practice Thursday afternoon. I got to the practice field as the guys were just starting to trickle out of the locker room for stretches. I was anxious to see all this new beef I'd been hearing about. Honestly, we still look a little bit small for a PAC-10 team, but if you look closely there is a difference from last season and even the Spring. Notably Kevin Kooyman stood out immediately. He's always been a bit of a string bean, but no more. By far the biggest difference between the team I saw today and the team I saw last summer was way, WAY fewer guys sitting out practice. Last year it seemed there were more guys loafing around in those walking boots then actually practicing. Today I only saw one...



That is wide receiver Johnny Forzani. He is an intriguing prospect coming out of the Calgary Stampeders youth organization (Canadian teams have those I guess?) and is supposed to be quite the speedster. As you can see he wasn't moving too fast today. Apparently this is nothing major, just soreness in a surgically repaired foot. They were also being cautious and resting a couple other guys who had off season surgeries including Bernard Wolfgramm and Myron Beck, but for the most part everyone was participating. What a difference a year makes.

Read on for more....



As you may have heard, two true freshman have been participating in afternoon practice with the veterans. Gino Simone, the all world receiver from Skyline and Travis Long, the man-child defensive end from Gonzaga Prep were both on hand. Here is Gino (1) stretching before practice with NCAA 400 meter hurdle national champ, Jeshua Anderson (85).


One player who returned to practice today after sitting out yesterday with a hip pointer was Apple cup hero Jared Karstetter (84), seen here with Kevin Lopina (9).

I'm not sure if it was a last minute decision, but when he ran onto the field the receivers and QB's got excited, welcoming him back with a burst of applause.

It was clear watching the offense go through their plays that they have a much better grasp of things than they did at this time last year. Last summer the coaches spent a lot of time shoving guys into the right places, basically directing traffic, but this year, with the notable exception of Simone who is still learning the formations, everything was much more fluid. Most of what I saw from the coaches was fine tuning and pushing the tempo. If you're like me, you were probably frustrated by the pedestrian pace of our no-huddle offense last year (the few games we actually ran it). But I'm hopeful from what I saw Thursday afternoon that we'll be able to step up the pace a bit more.

You may have gotten the idea from some of my posts and comments that I am a big fan of Joe Eppele. When you see this team in person, he is without a doubt the biggest, strongest looking guy we have and I was excited to see him in the mix for a starting spot this year. Here is big #67, who doesn't look to carry an ounce of body fat on his over 300 lb frame.



I took this picture to show how much he stood out amongst the other hosses on the team, but depth perception and my photography skills being what they are, you may be asking... who is #75? He looks like a behemuth! Well he is. That is redshirt frosh Tyson Pencer, who like Eppele, hails from British Columbia and is one of the growing number of guys who make us look like a PAC-10 football team.

In the picture above you see the coaches have laid foam pads about 3 yards apart on the turf. This set up was for a drill that was my favorite part of the day. As Vince highlighted in his report, this is a drill borrowed from Bud Wilkinson of Oklahoma. An offensive lineman and defender faced each other between the pads with a QB and/or running back behind the O lineman. The idea was for the O lineman to open a hole for the running back to get around the defender within the tight confines between the pads. Basically, it was demolition derby.

There were some big collisions, the most notable I saw was when Joe Eppele lined up against Andy Mattingly. It was a pretty one sided affair as Eppele completely bulldozed Mattingly to an explosion of cheers from his cohorts on the offense. Also of note was true frosh Travis Long completely blowing up the O linemen he was up against and the running back in a single big hit. It is easy to see why this young man may see the field right away!

The other big moment of the afternoon was a long touchdown run in scrimmage from Logwone Mitz. He made a great cut when a hole opened off tackle left and was through it like a laser and out in the open where no one would catch him. As Grippi noted he got some nice blocks from his receivers, but from my vantage point all I could see was pure explosiveness. He looked like Shaumbe in the snow. Know what I mean, Coug fans?

Well that is all I have for now. I have a lot more I want to see and share with you in the coming days so stay tuned to this station and I'll be back with more. Until then...

GO COUGS!

7 comments:

Sean Hawkins said...

Nice work again Shane. Liking the sound of Travis Long looking good early. And the lack of injuries sounds good (so far!). I remember some of your reports last year saying that at one point, there were so many walking wounded that we looked like the french army in full retreat! Wulff touched on that in one of Grippi's articles, about how it is a different year and we're a stronger outfit. Sounds great to me.

The Coug-A-Sutra said...

Fantastic work again, LB!

Sir Vincent noted on his blog last night that few passes from the quarterbacks were on target. Any comment on what you saw from Lopina and Lobster?

Chris '04 said...

Nice write-up, LB.

I'm wondering if you're gonna start doing write-ups on "Akey's Army" anytime soon :-p

James said...

I probably saw you there without knowing it. In fact, I swear I was walking by Gino and Jeshua when you took that pic lol. The Oklahoma was the best part that I saw, but sadly I had to leave during it. I'm excited for the scrimmage on Saturday because I want to see what the offense looks like in actual play--specifically how each QB plays. I noticed Levenseller has a bolt of an arm on some plays and Lopina has improved his accuracy in practice but it's hard to tell what it would look like in a game situation.

Lucas said...

Oklahoma is one of the funnest drills in football. It is nothing short of a nasty fistfight. Mano y Mano. In fact, Hard Knocks did a nice little segment on episode 1.

Hooty McBoob said...

Good stuff, Longball. I'm catching up on my reading after being over on the dark side for work all week.

I visitied my uncle in the uw medical center ICU this morning after some surgery he had on Wednesday. I scrolled a big GO COUGS on the ICU white board.

Is anyone else getting a sinking feeling about Wolfgramm?

Ron said...

That Oklahoma drill reminds me of something we called Westpoint when I was playing high school football, except i think it was 3v3 instead of one on one. All the players looked forward to it on the first day of full contact practice.

Great to hear that our starters have improved from last year, especially as a current student who's pride is on the line with every game, haha. And its a big relief to hear that our players may actually size up to our Pac-10 opponents this year.