With a few hours of shopping, beers, fights etc...under my belt I can finally give you a few observations from another perspective. As always, for the truest, most correct form of following Badger practice please refer to Potrykus (AKA...The Great One) or Mr. Tom Mulhern. They will provide you with the truest reflection of what happened. These are just another person's perspective.
First and foremost, today's practice...scheduled for 10:15, I didn't arrive until 10:30. After racing to the stadium and being oblivious, I ran into Camp Randall as fast as I could only to find the field empty. Confused, and somewhat embarrassed, I sauntered back to the McClain Center where the team was wrapping up their individual drills. When practice is in the McClain Center the energy is much more accessible, feeling the the sounds of pads cracking, hearing the communication among players, the chatter among media, and the snap of the tempo of a practice. You can literally feel how a practice is going based on the acoustics.
When I arrived, individual work was just wrapping up...I only was able to see the DLine going through some of their technique work. I instantly noticed that I could name most of the guys, or at least recognize most of the guys going through the high-low, rip-read-react drill. Noticed the attention paid by DLine Coach Charlie Partridge, simply teaching. It was just a one-on-one drill, but footwork, arm-angle, head position, shoulder depth and knee bend were all focus points in the little amount I saw. Indy drills are all about teaching and Partidge excelled.
They moved into 7-on-7's skeleton. With this being my first practice, noticed different jerseys among players and the #18 Montee Ball was wearing. The new ones were much more slim fit, smaller numbers, and the shoulders are no longer sleeves but cut under the shoulder pad for a tighter fit, exposing any off season arm work done by players. Ball certainly looks the part of a Heisman caliber running back, or at least looks like the best athlete on the field when he's on it. I wouldn't see him after these drills.
7-on-7 is just passing drills, and as reported, QB's are not a position of strength, and either are WR's. Even without defenders, Joe Brennan is a guy who will rush his footwork into his throw. It was very mechanical. Joel Stave, while smoother, may not throw as good as a ball as Brennan (BTW- Stave worked with the fi arst group all day -- it was the first day that happend.) Phillips, recognizable by his knee brace seemingly hadn't differentiated himself from a year ago. (AKA...throws dangerous balls into traffic) -- Oh, and the only way to tell Brennan from Stave was by their socks...Brennan black, Stave white...or the other way around, whatever.
During this, Marquis Mason certainly was an eye-grabber. Has all the tools to be a tremendous receiver. Big, strong, long, fast, explosive, great athleticism, and seemingly knows he can be really good --- but --- I don't know how good he is. See, I watched many of his HS games, and while he has all the tools did you see that one was missing?? I don't know how good his hands are. He can catch, but it's not something you notice, what you notice is, when he catches the ball is the athletic moves, strength etc.. he has going for him after he makes that catch. He certainly stood out because, when there wasn't an errant pass, he looked as the only legit WR playmaker. (At least in this drill and a reminder that Abby is out)
Also took notice of the TE's. Let's just say it's another position of strength, but nothing explosive down field. They are big, they can block, they can catch. All that is necessary.
So off to the Camp we went...Done with 7's, so it's into the stadium for 11-on-11 and the Scrimmage portion...I was lucky enough to be crop-dusted by someone, it stunk and almost made me barf.
With Indy and 7-on-7's done. The first drills exercised were the 11-on-11 situations. I didn't keep track of all the situations, as being my first practice, wanted to see who would stand out. I would guess they probably ran about 30 plays with the 1s-2s-and-3s...and here were the notes I took verbatim...
-#14 (Marcus Cromartie) Really closing quick on receivers and plays
-#96 (Beau Allen) HUGE...but fast, looks strong with his hands, very disruptive...*Beau Allen is going to be good
-#12 (Dez Southward) Compact contact...finishes plays. Is his finger busted? Back in and hitting harder than most...
-#25 (Melvin Gordon) Making the biggest plays...30yd run...RZ TD...Ball Jr.??
-#87 (Marquis Mason) Biggest receiving plays... Still don't know about his hands...Playmaker...
-#59 (Marcus Trotter) Fills hard...Impact and contact...great energy...next in line??...Borland/Taylor? (As in...how good is this group with those two?) -- #30 (Derek Landisch) -- Like him
-#37 (Michael Caputo) BIG HIT! spiked Gordon to the ground...2ND BIG HIT!
-#71 (Ray Ball) Ran off the field by Markuson b/c of failing to get any leverage...big boy though...
-#84 (Austin Maly) Longest catch of the day so far...don't know who he beat
-#48 (Jake keefer) Explodes into play...lots of positive reinforcement for his play, because he keeps making them
-#41(??) Explodes into the mess
-#65 (Jonathan Coon) Who is Jon Coon??
-#13 (Conor O'neil) Fast closer, athletic, skinnier than the big LBs
-#27 (Kyle Zulegar) Great moves inside the hold...starts, jukes, explodes...easy to cheer for b/c of white rb dealio...will probably steal the show at Spring Game
-#6 (Kenzel Doe) Longest completion of the drill goes to Doe
-#89 (Chase Hammond) Targeted twice in RZ...looks the part...good convo among media RE...
Along with the individual assessments these practice wide observations were made (Verbatim w/explanation):
-- Nothing more than 5yds (During 11-on-11, the offense couldn't really move the ball. Mason and Maly made the biggest plays but they were nothing spectacular. Mason carried defenders with him after a big catch, but the offense was pretty much shut down. No discernible difference between Stave and Brennan at this point.)
-- Hemer bigger. (The DLineman has filled out more, he is 300+...but still looks lean next to Beau Allen!!)
-- Don't stretch field. (Again, the offense wasn't impressive. No deep threats. No deep passes. No clean passing lanes. No clean pass/catches. The pass wasn't pretty at this point.)
-- Gordon explosive. (Kid is as advertised. Like a 2in taller Montee Ball. It isn't like he's shaking and baking, it's like he gains yards every play and it takes a lot of defenders to finally land a clean hit and take him down.)
-- Markuson doesn't swear. (Completely the opposite of Bostad. Seriously, I'd get intimidated by Bo when he'd yell at guys on the field. Markuson is not the same guy...so we'll see how the group performs any differently.)
-- Bret calls out receivers: "Somebody step up! Somebody F#%@* step up!! YOU'LL PLAY!!" (Drew the best reaction from everyone at practice...yet, was what a lot of people were thinking. That, and can one of the QB's hit a guy in stride?)
-- No Abbrederis or Garner. (Basically 2-guys who'll start when healthy)
-- Center/QB exchanges. (6 fumbles...Voltz the biggest culprit, but he's never played center so BB wasn't really pissed.)
-- DE-FENSE!! (When doing situationals...it got down to RZ, and the D held up well, and they basically had each others back in a unison DE-FENSE cheer during the important moments...especailly a 3rd and goal from the 4)
Here is where I take my pot-shot at TGP. He was giving me the business for writing too much on one practice and posting on message boards or something like that. Well, I'll just point out he was the one to complain about it being chilly at CR, but in his zipper-pocket-khakis-shorts and (I think) no socks, it may be chilly in April buddy, expect it and...deal with it.
Moving on...Scrimmage Time!! Or as it's called...Move the ball segment of practice...
Here's where it was discussed that Stave has worked with the 1s all day long...and here is the PBP as best as could keep up w/out being interrupted, I'm going verbatim off my notes so I hope you understand...if you don't, figure it out hotshot. (And it's just my notes...don't belabor my math)
1/10 @35 -- Full house -- Complete to #8
1/10 @41 -- Full house -- Gordon stopped by #59
2/9 @40 -- 2 WR RT -- Rollout RT complete to #8
3/1 @32 -- I - Iso stuffed
4/1@31 -- 50yd FG short
1/10 @35 -- Single 2WR L -- Fumble snap aHHHHHHHHHHHH
1/10 @35 -- Single -- Zulegar straight ahead 8yds...
2/2 @43 -- Single -- Complete to #81 1st
1/10 @45 -- Single -- Slant complete to Mason dragging 2 defenders...
1/10@20 -- Single (2TE) -- Pass complete (near bat down) Keefer stacks Traylor on his head
2/1@10 -- Single -- Zulegar
3/1 @10 -- Zulegar 1st down
1/G @ 8 --Lhash -- Corner lob inc
2/G @8 -- I -- Gordon tiptoes through hole, seemingly has it but filled quickly
3/G @6 -- 2 TE L -- Brennan looks left..nothing...throws right incomplete...way off
4/6 @6 -- FG Good by #11 (Who is #11?? -- Turns out nobody knows)
1/10@2 -- I-BIG -- Gordon Off-T RT -- Nice
1/10@18 -- Single w/2TE Motion -- Gordon L toss BIG gain
1/10@50 -- I into 2TE M -- Zulegar 44YDS!! ...Stealing the show!
1/G @6 -- Dual TE RT -- Inside stuffed
2/6 @6 -- PA Pass, Stave steps around rush-end, steps up TD pass to Cadogan
**About as good as it gets ***
1/10 @2 -- I -- Zulegar +2
2/8 @4 -- Single -- Brennans pass hits defender #13 in the facemask
3/8 @4 -- (fumbled snap) -- VOLTZ!!!
1s went again and Zulegar once again stood out. Zulegar and Gordan each looked great...they should be the standouts during the Spring Game next week. What really stood stood out is the fact that the QB's will be behind O'brien when he gets here. I was really missing Tolzien and Wilson, but not going to be much different from last years Spring.
So... With all that I saw and carefully observed... Defense should be really good. From the rotation at Dline, w/Borland/Taylor and the 2ndary...the defense will thrive. The O...w/out Obrien it will score enough to win games. W/Obrien, I smell Roses or more. (Pending viewing of O'Brien.)...While this is nothing really new, it was more or less confirmed just by sitting around in a sunny, basically wind free day at CR, although it was definitely not shorts weather.
*Please excuse spelling/grammer you freaks...go Badgers!