A little bit of a different look from what we saw a couple days ago. This is the ninth overall spring practice this year, and the third in as many days. Let's break it down a
• Well, the first thing you'll notice is this clip features 100% more Fitzgerald Toussaint than the previous one. No question he looks very strong. I don't see anyone unseating him from the starting spot. I've heard good things about Justice Hayes and we also see a nice run from Rawls in this video, but Fitz is just on a different level.
No question this offense will revolve almost entirely around Denard and Fitz. We're going to be a running offense this year, no question.
And yes, I did notice that nice little move by Rawls switching the ball to the outside hand, ala Mike Hart, around the 1:13 mark. Love to see that.
• Which brings me the OL. It's a little tough to really see how good these guys are doing in this clip. The camera is only showing us what they want us to see. And that usually means not much. And we're also seeing clips of plays that go well, which leads me to only believe what I hear from sources who are actually at these practices.
And from those sources, things with the OL are beginning to solidify.
Lewan is as solid as solid can be a left tackle. No question there. Schofield is looking better and better on the right side. The real hope is that we can stay healthy, because backups in those spots are not where they should be. At all.
As we see in the video, Elliot Mealer is suddenly a veteran stud. Which is great, but I'm wondering what took so long. Omameh is also doing well on the other side. I suspect these will be the starters come September. But again, depth is an issue. Kyle Kalis to the rescue? He might need to be.
A two horse race at this point with Ricky Barnum edging out Jack Miller by a couple lengths. Word is he's a serviceable center for what we need. He's no Molk, but David Molks don't grow on trees.
• On the run, Denard is...well, Denard. Borges knows not to mess with a good thing. Let Shoelace be Shoelace.
His throw to a well covered Gallon around the :50 mark was both very lucky in how it turned out, and ill-advised, I'm sure. Jake Ryan had a nice break on the ball and either misjudged it or was just over his outstretched hand (I assume). A real CB/S there would turn that into 6. Props to Gallon for coming down with it and making a nice play.
• Good to see Marvin Robinson get a nice tackle on the very next play. The safety was obviously lined up close to the line, possibly in a 5-DB set. But as Lewan said, Mattison is throwing every kind of blitz package in the book at this offense right now.
Countess had a nice breakup in the endzone at 1:50. From reports I've read, he's the man at corner right now. A honest-to-goodness shutdown guy.
Honestly, our defensive backfield is maybe the one of the strongest units on this team. Corners especially. JT, Blake, Taylor, Avery...we're loaded there. Safeties as well.
• Everywhere on defense other than the line is looking very good. In this clip, when the D makes a nice play, it's more than just one guy. Linebackers are flying around all over the place. I don't mean to say the line is not looking good, but we all know what's going on there with auditions in full swing for the interior spots. Jibreel Black has been said as the best interior guy we have this spring. Ash and Washington are also in the mix.
Safe to say at this point, the DL has taken a big step back with the holes left by RVB and Mike Martin. Those guys were seniors and they played like it. Big Will Campbell is coming along, but he's not there yet. Word is he needs to get down. Good things are being said about Roh, Beyer and Clark, which is encouraging. Nathan Brink had a great spring last year. This year he has some work to do.
We'll get a much better idea of where we're at at the spring game. One guy not in the spring game b/c he hasn't enrolled yet is incoming Ondre Pipkins. He could see the field early the way things are looking.
• Tight end. Sigh.
Well, probably the biggest area of concern on the team. In this clip we see Moore get a grab, as well as Chris Eddins (93). But both caught the ball and were tackled immediately. Word is those guys, and the other six TE's being auditioned right now, are mildly warm and very cold. Some have flashes, but no one is standing out. This is a huge problem. With no real TE, this offense will need to adjust by utilizing more receivers...where we're also thin.
• Jerald Robinson is having a break out spring. A HUGE break out spring. As in...where this guy been all this time?! Word is we're not going to miss Stonum. We will miss Hemingway, but not as much thanks for JRob and Roundtree who's enjoying his move outside. With Gallon and Dileo doing as well as expected at slot, we have a real 4-wide look.
More to come as details and videos creep out of Fort Schembechler. We'll keep you updated.