Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday Practice Report: Hotter than Disco...


On Thursday afternoon I trekked up to practice with my trusty sidekick/photographer, Amieable and we have something to report...

It was hot. Too damned hot. Too hot for coach Wulff who ran off to a sports banquet in Spokane. Too hot for the usually unflappable Vince Grippi who had this to say -

"The hottest day of the year and he’s (Coach Wulff) not here, which is why I didn’t feel bad standing in the shade of the library."


Vince needs to get a "Grippi" on his facts. He was actually sitting in the shade of library and Amieable has the proof...



BUSTED! He stole a chair from somewhere and took a seat next to the tackling dummies. Ok, we can't blame him. In fact we escaped to the shade too and a vantage point just above the west side of the practice field. It was a great perch to observe from and was a crisp cool 195 degrees instead of the sweltering four million degrees out on the practice pitch. Here's what we saw...

Kevin Lopina. Am I starting to sound like a broken record? The senior was at it again today, making the reads, the throws and moving the chains, while Marshall Lobbestael really struggled. Ocho Rojo put a number of balls in the turf in front of open receivers, but did manage to find a couple wide open DBs. Daniel Simmons, the emerging freshman cornerback, took his pick to the house, and safety Tyree Toomer was so surprised to be drilled between the numbers that he couldn't corral the interception. At one point Amieable turned to me and asked, "Has he completed a single pass today?" Right now it is Lopina's job to lose and his stiffest challenge is coming from the freshman, Tuel.

Tuel looked good again today. He moves really well in the pocket and had the throw of the day when he sent an absolute bullet through the defense to a diving Nick Proen, the sophomore wideout. He does have a ways to go with running the offense, however. On one play the defense brought a blitzing linebacker up near the right end and with no protection on that side Tuel failed to check to a different play or formation. The ball was snapped and the linebacker came untouched off the end forcing Tuel to tuck and run up the middle and into the open arms of the D tackles. Definitely a good example of the kinds of trouble a defense can cause a young QB by mixing up the looks they give him.

It has been widely noted that a few freshman have already shown they will be impact players this year. Three of them, Gino Simone at receiver, Daniel Simmons at corner and Travis Long at defensive end, are holding down starting spots. Gino made a couple of really nice grabs today and Long is a disruptive force coming off the right end. We already mentioned that Simmons had the big pick today, pouncing on a telegraphed Marshall Lobbestael pass and taking it to the house. Also seeing time with the #1 defense was Darren Markle, the freshman linebacker who more than held his own. This will probably be Alex Hoffman-Ellis' spot, but he was out today and Markle got the nod ahead of Mike Ledgerwood. Everywhere you look on this team it appears that Coach Wulff and his staff have done a helluva job on the recruiting front. Help isn't on the way, it is already here.

As has been widely reported, James Montgomery, the explosive running back transfer from Cal, was on the receiving end of a nasty hit today that put him on ice for the rest of practice. It was so hot today, I couldn't blame him for coming up with any reason to get to that ice bath, but after the hit he took it may not have been worth it. The #1 offense was doing a red zone drill against the #1 defense and Lopina made probably his poorest decision of the day, trying to zip a laser pass to Montgomery in the middle of the end zone. The ball arrived with Montgomery surrounded by at least 3 defenders closing fast. He took one of those dreaded shots where someone hits ya hard up top going one way and someone else gets you down low going the other. It activated the cringe reflex in both Amieable and I. Initially I was worried his head had snapped back awkwardly, but it turned out to be his knee that got tweaked. So far, it appears he is fine, but everyone was holding their breath.

Keep going for the rest of the story, plus several pictures of the action....




This wasn't the only hard hit of the day. In fact this defense seems considerably more nasty than the paddy-cake princess tea party we saw last year. Its encouraging to hear the gunshot crack of the pads ring off the library walls again, something that we just haven't heard enough of lately.

As I said, I brought Amieable along so we could show you what it all looked like out there today, so lets get to the pics -

I said the defense has been hitting hard, and here you see Jason Stripling (51) breaking up a pass to Tony Thompson (14).



What do you get when you take near 100 degree temperatures and hard hits? Tempers flare and Amieable is ready to capture the action...

This scuffle was pretty short, and I couldn't even tell who started it, but this is the kind of stuff that becomes more common as camp wears on.

Here you see Marshall Lobbestael (8) tucking and running for his life; Kevin Kooyman (93) and Jesse Sanchez (99) are in pursuit...

Here you see freshman running back Carl Winston (32), taking the hand off with big #76 Micah Hannam leading the way down field. This turned into a big gainer down the sideline for Winston who looks like another great pick up for Coach Wulff and his staff.


Here we see sophomore receiver Nick Proen (25) hauling in a pass as safety LeAndre Daniels (15) closes in for the hit...


Here a Marshall Lobbestael pass sails just over the reach of Gino Simone (1) who had a step on Daniels (15)...

You may have heard that Chad Eaton has been a regular feature at practices this year. Since Eaton was a starting NFL defensive tackle all those years, I like to use him as a physical measuring stick of how our guys are looking. Eaton is in the white shirt and red shorts, without a helmet of course. Great to have a strong part of our past checking out practices!


Finally, looks like Mr. Grippi wasn't sitting down on the job after all...


My apologies to Vince!

Well Coug fans, that's all I have for now. Sounds like Hooty and Kaddy are coming to town. Between that and the National Lentil Festival, I better get my drinking pants on. I hope to bring you more news and images from Fall Camp soon. Until then...

GO COUGS!


9 comments:

Sean Hawkins said...

Thanks to Longball and Amieable for another great recap. Fantastic work!

Disappointed to hear that about Lobbestael's lack of production. It sounded like he was better on Wednesday. But I do love hearing good things on Lopina.

But the best news of all Shane? The defense! I know we led the universe in giveaways last year on offense, and the defense was buried so deep, so fast that it was like they were playing in quicksand. But there is no sweeter sound to me than hearing that these guys are poppin' it at practice with that physical tone. Don't like hearing that about Montgomery, and don't want the D to destroy their own guys, but it sounds like he'll be fine. Anyway, great work as always!

Hooty McBoob said...

Great work, LB. You've earned a beer! I'll give you a shout when I hit town.

Stiffmiester said...

Longball,
Pu'u Robinson was in pads during the hour of morning practice. Hopefully no injury there. Too bad to see that Lobestall was sailing passes in afternoon. Winston had a couple of good runs during thud practice too. Great write up.

Portland Coug said...

BUSTED IS RIGHT! LOL at Grippi. Longball does Simmons the freshman DB look like a starting corner? That is a worry.

kaddy said...

Love seeing Eaton involved...embracing your past, especially when they were good, will only help us!

Brian said...

Great post!

Chris '04 said...

Damn it was hot down here yesterday. I opened the upstairs windows at about 9:30pm and the wind was blowing in HOT AIR! I was displeased.

I hope those guys had a hellavu good time at the water park and the BBQ, because it's not gonna be cooling down that much over the next few days.

Whidbey HQ said...

I'm getting excited for our trip in Sept... Might we actually see some football... as opposed to what we saw last year?

Longball said...

Thanks Stiffmeister,

Its important to remember these are 2 a days, and what you see in the afternoon could be the product of exhaustion. Glad to hear he looked good in the morning session.

Portland Coug,

Simmons looks real good, but while it didnt make it into my post, Aire Justin had a good afternoon. The competition at corner is fierce and making everyone better. The fact that Simmons entered camp as the starter over Justin gives you an idea just how good he looks.

Whidbey HQ - We can't wait to have you. Hopefully Whidbey Island's prodigal son, Marshall Lobestael will get it going and give you something to cheer about.