And just like that, it's football season. Before you wet the bed with excitement, I'm going to cut to the chase: here are some general impressions from the first day of fall practice.
- The defensive line is the spiritual core of the football team. Although DJ Swearinger has left, his swagger has stuck around, and this year it's decisively coming from the defensive line. A highlight of the night came by a bit of showboating by Jadeveon Clowney when he flipped a blocking sled, which then set the bar for the rest of the unit to follow suit.
- The freshmen don't look like "freshmen." Of course, there were some unpolished drills and moves on the field tonight, but not many of them look wildly far removed from their older counterparts from an athletic standpoint. I was particularly impressed with how the young linebackers were moving during their individual drills, and in particular Larenz Bryant.
- All the players who were injured, or recovering, do not look hampered at all. Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson both looked very good running and catching the football, and Connor Shaw is definitely 100%.
- Dylan Thompson is noticeably better than his "second string" counterparts, and looks equally comfortable when playing with the "1's". You can definitely tell that the game has slowed down for him. The highlight of his night came on a go route to Damiere Byrd who beat his man for a 70 yard "touch down." That said, there is absolutely 0 quarterback controversy.
- On that note, I am not nearly as worried about the wide receiving corps today than I was yesterday. Almost every player had a "moment" worth mentioning which speaks to the coaching they have been receiving. Of course, what we saw tonight was just a sample of what the staff will ask them to do as the season progresses. Outside of the starting few I was impressed by K.J Brent who was a reliable target, Shamier Jeffrey who displayed good intensity, Kane Whitehurst who took reps with the first team in 11v11 drills and was fielding punts. Noticeably missing from the WR corps tonight was Shaq Roland - rumor has it he was held out due to academic reasons.
- We have some really good legs on campus from a punting stand point, but none of them proved consistent when under pressure. Granted, it is just the first day back. However, the shoot out to see who the starting punter is will continue to heat up as we continue forward in camp. Tonight I'd give the "no pressure" edge to walk on Andrew Komornik who had a few boomers, with Tyler Hull walking away with the "with pressure" edge.
Overall the offense was able to log 21 "first downs".