The Work - Canes Camp #2
**The second practice of fall camp was fully open to the media, so we got to see some more things than yesterday. Head Coach Al Golden said that the first two days of camp just consisted of pocket passing, 2-3 step drops, and draws. Tomorrow, Golden says they will start to mix in run plays, play-action, and perimeter work.
--Golden on Brad Kaaya: “He’s not just a leader, he’s a commander.”
--Golden was asked what Stacy Coley has to do to avoid a repeat of last season and he seemed pleased with Coley’s mental progress, “He’s bigger and stronger…Mentally, he doesn’t miss anything right now. He’s sharp.”
--Golden calls the new Greentree practice field lights a “stress-reliever”. Said that he doesn’t have to worry about a morning or afternoon storm killing their practice time anymore since the lights allow the team to hold night practices.
**RB coach Ice Harris loves the versatility in his stable of backs.
--“I like the balance of this group. They are in a great position in terms of they can do a lot of different things. I don’t have to set up my system where each can only do one thing. We have four guys who are able to do everything, no matter what the size level is. I don’t have to rotate based on situations because they can all handle it,” said Harris.
**When asked about Mark Walton, Golden said, “He has great leverage, balance, and is a physical presence.” Also added that the freshman out of Booker T. Washington is a “shoulders-over-toes” runner, which creates more power for a ball carrier.
--“Mark is really a tremendous student-athlete. His work ethic is second-to-none. He trains well and pushes himself. I give a lot of credit to his high school coaches for really teaching the little details that got him ready for this moment,” said coach Ice Harris.
--Golden mentioned Demetrius Jackson and David Njoku as two redshirt players who could be ready to make an impact this season for the Canes.
**I posted in my pre-fall camp work that freshman Evan Shirrefs would be somebody to watch out for, and he definitely looked like a player in limited action today.
--He is incredibly smart and the arm pops,” said Golden.
**One of my biggest takeaways from today's practice was the work of defensive line coach Randy Melvin. Melvin is known as a great teacher of the position and I came away impressed from what I saw. Melvin was stressing the importance of his linemen using their hands. He is not much of a yeller, but rather pulls his guys aside to work with them.
--“These guys are all about business and making themselves better. It’s about the details of the position. It doesn’t matter if it’s football, life, or business, you have to handle the details before being successful and that’s all were doing,” said Melvin.
**Freshman CB Michael Jackson will be a player. In positional work, Golden seemed extremely upbeat with Jackson. At one point, he yelled "Way to be big!" after Jackson had a nice rep. His hip fluidity is a plus with his size.
**Golden also had some words of encouragement for Sheldrick Redwine, but at one point he pulled him aside for what Golden called a "teaching moment". Redwine stayed with the receiver running upfield, instead of leaving that responsibility to the safety behind him (Jamal Carter in this case) and this exposed an opening in the flat where the running back was then wide open. Golden told Redwine, "don't over rotate your hips" because his back was turned away from the player in the flat.
--DB Coach Paul Williams on Jackson and Redwine: “They’re good kids with good ability. They’re young, guys that we just have to develop. But they both came in early and had a good summer. They’re going to be good players.”
--On Terrance Henley: “He’s got a chance. I like these three. You’ve got to develop them, but they all add depth.
--On Robert Knowles: “He’s got ability, but he’s learning. Coming from high school compared to some of the stuff we run, you just have to take slow steps. But he seems like a smart kid and seeing things in the film room compared to doing it on the field are different things.”
--On JaQuan Johnson: “You see signs of it (being a leader). He’s a good kid, he’s a football kid. He’s fun and I look forward to seeing him develop.
--On Jamal Carter: “I think he’s ready (to take the next step). He had a good offseason and the safety position is really 5-deep right now that are competing.”
-- “We’ve never had experience and health at the same time…finally you’ve got an experienced group and some depth so it should be fun,” said Williams.
**The offensive line continues to be the biggest a question on this team. Today's first team unit for most of the day was:
LT - Trevor Darling
LG - Alex Gall
C - Nick Linder
RG - Danny Isidora
RT - Sonny Odogwu
LT - Kc McDermott
LG - Hunter Wells
C - Hunter Knighton
RG - Joe Brown
RT - Jahair Jones
--The tackle spot is the biggest question. I like the interior with Linder at center and Isidora/Gall at guard. Darling is probably better suited at right tackle, so the hope is that McDermott takes over on the left side, but he looked a little behind speed today. Remember he is returning from a knee injury, so not worried about him just yet. Odogwu still looks like a monster, but you just wish it translated on the field.
--Freshman Tyree St. Louis is massive, but struggled today. On two consecutive reps, Demetrius Jackson and Chad Thomas manhandled him. I like St. Louis’ potential a lot, but there is work to do.
--Art Kehoe was ripping into Bar Milo and Brendan Loftus during the early part of practice in positional drills. These are another two who need seasoning. Milo needs to add strength.
**One bright spot on the line from last season was sophomore Nick Linder, who flashed a lot of ability in his limited time on the field as a freshman.
“Nothing is more confusing than freshman year of camp. To have those couple starts under my belt and picking up from the older guys really boosts my confidence. I know how to go about myself now,” said Linder.
--Linder is trying to mentor the freshmen just as he learned last season.
“They really don’t know how to go about things so it’s just the little things like telling them to rest when they have time during the day. Mental composure is important too because we will push them and they need to know how to react,” added Linder.
“It gives us a chip on our shoulder to know that the line we had last year needs to be the standard at which we hold ourselves to.”
**One of the things that defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio preached today was “winning” individual battles.
**Al Golden said that the team looks “bigger and stronger, more particularly on defense”
**Something that caught my eye was how Quan Muhammad and Demetrius Jackson worked exclusively with the defensive line group, whereas Tyriq McCord and Darrion Owens mixed in with the linebackers for coverage drills and linemen for pass rushing. This would tend to suggest that we won’t see Muhammad and Jackson dropping into coverage as some fans have feared.
**Freshmen Kendrick Norton and RJ McIntosh had good days. Norton has some baby fat, but has an aggressive mentality and his teammates have been impressed.
McIntosh flashed his impressive feet in drill work today and does a good job of staying low. The former basketball player has versatility.
--“Kendrick and McIntosh will be able to compete and make a difference right away,” said Golden.
**At defensive back, Tracy Howard and Corn Elder were getting what appeared to be most of the 1st team reps, with Deon Bush and Dallas Crawford at safety.
**Rayshawn Jenkins looked very good today. He was extremely active and vocal. I was told by a source that his weight room numbers were eye-popping and that he is back to full strength. He reportedly put up a 38-inch vertical jump.
--“I was worried for a while. It was a long road back, but he made a lot of changes in the way he did things,” said Golden.
**Wide Receivers coach Kevin Beard is stressing the importance of consistency to senior Herb Waters, who has shown flashes of what he can do over the last three years.
“Something I say to the guys all the time is be consistent being consistent. I think that’s an area that Herb needs to dial in on. If he makes a big play, he needs to continue doing it throughout the game,” said Beard.
-- Beard on Rashawn Scott: “He’s definitely matured over the years. He’s always carried himself differently because he’s so talented and now we know he’s talented, so let’s get technically and fundamentally sound to make it easier to make that talent show. He has taken a professional approach and has taken care of his body and is getting proper sleep.”
**Lawrence Cager looks like he has a real chance to see the field early. He was constantly asking questions and seems eager to learn. Physically, he has the looks of an NFL prospect.
--Beard on Cager: “He will be a good one. If he continues to be consistent and dialed into the playbook, I think he will give us a real big boost this season. I’m staying hard on him.
**I had a nice chat with tight ends coach Larry Scott, who is very confident in his group.
“You can’t just pigeon-hole one guy into one thing. They are so talented as a group. You can use them in various ways, which is a great characteristic to have,” said Scott.
--On David Njoku: “He has come a long way from spring to now. The tight end position is complex. You are tied in to the offensive line and with route combinations, so it’s a room where you have to spend time to study and he has come a long way. He is focused and mature in that he knows he has to study in order for his talent to show on the field.”
--On Chris Herndon: “When you have a guy that’s 6-4, 255-pounds, and can run that way with ball skills and a skillset that makes you sometimes shake your head, it’s special. He is very cerebral and studies hard. He wants to be really good.”
--On Standish Dobard: “When he got here, we needed to improve his football IQ more than anything because he had all the other things. He’s really attacked it and now he’s at the level where he’s able to coach the younger guys. He values it because he had to work so **** hard to get to that point. He needed to get in better physical condition and get stronger. He wants to maximize his opportunity to be good and he has put himself in position to do that as a junior.”
**I will be dropping a few more tidbits and interviews throughout the day, so stay tuned for that.