Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fall Camp Notebook '010: Days 5 & 6

Two days. Three practices. Seemingly infinite updates after the first day of full-squad, joint practices...

Gotta love the vocal leadership and encouragement shown by returning starter Ryan Colburn. Colburn is looking sharp and confident, and it's pretty difficult to see a difference between he and Derek Carr right now (besides speed). JC transfer Kelly O'Brien had a rugged start to camp, but has shown progress in the past few days. While he's still struggling to keep short and intermediate throws off the ground, his deep balls are a plus attribute.

Cal transfer Tracy Slocum, who's eligible to play right away, is shooting up the depth chart. He's been mixed in first-team reps and is sure to have a role. Michael Harris had some great runs in Tuesday's evening practice, but Robbie Rouse seems like the obvious choice at starter. E.J. Schexnayder has the size to play right away, but has gotten very few reps in game situations and needs to be more careful in how he holds the football. Keep on keepin' an eye on redshirt walk-on FB Dylan Cruz. The guy is huge, has wheels and can catch it out of the backfield.

At some points on Tuesday, it was difficult to tell the veterans and rookies apart. Freshman Jalen Saunders has quickly separated himself from the pack, showing what could amount to some of the best speed in school history. Despite his skinny frame, Saunders is fast enough to play right now and received some first-team reps Tuesday in certain personnel groupings. He seems to beat at least one corner per day by 10-plus yards on a route. Don't count out Victor Dean from playing as a freshman also. With his 6-foot-6 height, he can go up and get it and be a matchup nightmare for opponents. With Davon Dunn finally cleared to play, it'll be interesting to see if coaches want him in the special teams mix sooner than later. And Isaiah Burse also offers potential in the "tiger" (wildcat) formation. Rashad Evans is the X-factor a lot of preseason prognosticators forgot about -- he's really fast.

David Gory spent Tuesday on top of the berm doing non-contact rehab work with the rest of the injured players (no word on what happened to him). Ryan Skidmore (surprise, surprise) was involved in the first practice scuffle of the young season, mixing it up with S Phillip Thomas. On Monday, Michael Butler showed solid blocking skills but also faced the wrath of Pat Hill after an unnecessary block behind the ball carrier.

The highlight of camp over the last two days was C Joey Bernardi's celebration on the first play of 11-on-11s Tuesday. Colburn threw a TD pass and Bernardi ran downfield to celebrate with his WR, screaming and humming the fight song the whole time he was running and while he embraced his teammate. Redshirt freshman C Lars Bramer (Buchanan HS) has struggled a bit with his snaps in camp. His development will be worth keeping an eye on. The second scuffle Tuesday broke out between OL Max Devlin and DL Tyeler Davison, prompting Hill to throw 'em both in the bull ring to go heads up.

With DE Chris Lewis not dressed out today (limping), JC transfer Donnie Pritchett, who redshirted last season, got first-team work. The Bulldogs could greatly benefit from a young defensive lineman stepping up and shining -- and he's a candidate. Another camp highlight came when Pat Hill did a running chest bump with DT Logan Harrell after a nice play. Interesting to note that Nikko Motta, who's having a strong camp, has taken reps at both DT and DE. Andy Jennings still isn't participating in contact drills.

Freshman Lester Fontenette did rehab work on the berm during Tuesday's practices. On Monday, one of the great moments in my decade of attending camps happened when LB Kyle Knox and DE Chris Carter called the entire team to circle around on a knee and gave an inspiring, expletive-laced speech about playing hard, focusing and being ready to compete at a high level to beat the boise states and Cincinnatis.

Jermaine Thomas is proving to be the team's top corner. He's collected five interceptions (yes, five) in the past three days. He makes plays on the ball and stays in position. Thomas and L.J. Jones teamed up with the starting group for part of game situations Tuesday. Young corner Anthony Riggins has blazing speed, but plenty of technique work to do before he's ready to hit the field.

While Zak Hill had no business starting over Phillip Thomas, it's heartbreaking to see him hobbling around Valley Growers Field on crutches with a left knee brace. Our prayers go out to him for a speedy recovery. Justin Webber now gets an increased role and the Bulldogs sorely need him to capitalize. Keep an eye on whether freshman Derron Smith can crack the dress list this year after he had his best day of camp on Tuesday.

Kevin Goessling broke out the stump today, connecting on three straight 52-yard field goals without a rush. Goessling also bombed a 55-yarder with extra room to spare at the start of practice, resulting in special teams coach Pete Alamar losing a bet between the two and having to do 5 push-ups.


  1. Thanks for the update. I like the position by position information so no position is overlooked. Two questions: What happened to Chirs Lewis? & In your opinion who is winning the QB duel?

  2. Lewis has been dinged up so he's taken the last couple of days off. He should be ready to get back at it fairly soon.

    QB battle has been pretty steady between the two. Colburn has thrown more interceptions on a day-to-day basis (with Jermaine Thomas the usual culprit), but both have been pretty impressive. That being said, Derek completely owned both of Tuesday's practices and was lighting it up.

    Given Pat Hill's claim that Carr has to blow away Colburn, Carr hasn't done enough yet to get the job. Carr is still the better QB overall though. No question.

  3. How is Colburn's arm strength and delivery? That was weakness last year. Slow methodical delivery and not enough zip on the ball. Other than that he was solid in the pocket.



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