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August 11, 2009

Newcomers getting chance

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Stanford returned to the practice field again Tuesday morning for a helmets-only workout. Once again holding drills at Paly, the team worked out in less severe heat. Monday saw temp climb to the mid to high 90's and Tuesday weather saw a 10-15 degree drop.

The morning began with nearly a full hour of special teams work. Various drills and units worked on the area of special teams. The punt team concluded the special teams drill. I saw several players fielding punts from the JUGS machine. Drew Terrell, Jamal-Rashad Patterson, Michael Thomas, Doug Baldwin, Corey Gatewood were those I saw.

The team broke up into unit drills, with the entire defense working on tackling technique in pairs. Quarterbacks and running backs worked on exchanges. Linebackers worked on coverage schemes, the defensive ends and tackles worked on technique. The offense and defensive line worked on one-on-one drills, but I was far away and didn't get a chance to see much.

The team worked at various times in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 , here are a few observations.

  • Andrew Luck threw the ball well today, completing several passes in the flat to running backs and wide receivers.
  • Doug Baldwin ran well and caught well today. Baldwin has been plagued with injuries, but if he can stay on the field, he appears he will be a god contributor.
  • Stepfan Taylor and Drew Terrell seemed to be in the mix more today
  • Marcus Rance, like Baldwin has been injured, but looks ready to go and had several nice grabs.
  • Luck threw a bullet that bounced off the chest of Jim Dray. Clinton Snyder may have had a hand in there and Bo McNally missed a diving interception
  • Luck threw a nice pass to Terrell on a 15 yard comeback route
  • In a 3rd down situation drill, Luck had a nice sequence of finding Baldwin, Coby Fleener, and Ryan Whalen (twice) all for first downs.
  • Josh Nunes worked in third down situations and looked good, he can make all the throws. Hit Terrell for a nice gain, had a nice pass to Liam McNally out of the back field. His best pass was 20 yard out to Jamal-Rashad Patterson, who dropped the pass. Patterson struggled a bit today, dropping a few passes.
  • Patterson did show some of the great talent he has with a nice adjustment on a Tavita Pritchard pass for a 50 yard gain down the sideline. And also earned praise from Harbaugh on a route that cleared out a zone for another receiver.
  • Pritchard seems to have improved on his intermediate passing and looks stronger.
  • Nick Macaluso had in interception of a Nunes pass intended for Griff Whalen
  • Zach Ertz caught a pass from Nunes
  • Harold Bernard had a good read from his safety spot for a 'tackle' on Baldwin
  • Erik Lorig and Tom Keiser were disruptive all day
  • Taylor showed great burst on an outside run in turning the corner
  • Terrell had a great grab on the sideline, tiptoeing in bounds, on a Pritchard pass.

    In 11-on-11, the first team offense against the first team defense.
  • Toby Gerhart is running strong and making sharp cuts
  • Richard Sherman worked nearly the whole practice at cornerback. He had a pass interference on a ball intended for Ryan Whalen. (Speaking of two-way players, Owen Marecic continued to work mainly on defense, but did see some time at fullback in the second half of the practice)
  • Clinton Snyder batted down a pass on a blitz.
  • Luck to Whalen for 30 yards on a deep out route, Gatewood on defense

    The practice ended with a two-minute drill

    Here are some very unofficial stats.
    Luck was 3-4, for 64 yards and a TD. The touchdown was a 45 yard go route to Baldwin, who got behind Gatewood.

    Pritchard was 3-6 for 34 yards. Pritchard connected twice with Coby Fleener for nice gains.

    Also during the conditioning held at the end of practice, coaches Willie Taggart, D.J. Durkin and Andy Buh all ran with their units. Kinda cool to see.

    Newcomers getting their chance early

    Second team will linebacker Max Bergen sat out today's practice with an ankle sprain. "I don't think it is anything too serious," coach Harbaugh said. "Max is going to be a OK, nothing structurally wrong, just had a little swelling."

    Walk-on Devin Guillory moved to 2nd team for the day. And when first team will backer Chike Amajoyi left practice at the halfway point to attend class, true freshman mike backer Shayne Skov was inserted into the starting lineup.

    Skov got around 8-10 snaps with the first team defense in 11-on-11 versus the first team offense. He also had a nice interception of a Luck pass intended for Rance.

    "Devin Guillory we are really high on him as an athlete, and as a football player he is going to be fine," Harbaugh said. "And Skov was even able to switch positions and go from mike to will, had an interception. He is moving and running good. Gives us some flexibility. We don't want to put ourselves in position where we are not covered somewhere."

    Players getting more reps

    With over 100 players and depth at all positions the Stanford coaching staff is maximizing opportunities for the players.

    "More people are getting reps and less people are standing around," Harbaugh said. "We anticipated that and formated the drills that way. We split the drills up, instead of one drill going on, we now have two. Which is helping those young guys get a lot of work.

    "Two real good days, we got a lot out of it."

    Deep defensive line stands out

    The Stanford front four is arguably the strongest unit of the team. And today they made an impression on the head coach.

    "The d-line really stood out, just the way they are running to the football," Harbaugh said. "They way they are getting off on the snap, pushing the pocket, putting pressure on the quarterback. Ekom, Fua, Massifilo, Keiser, and Lorig is outstanding. And as a group, Lorig put it - they are void of conscious right now, they are just sprinting."

    Senior Erik Lorig agrees with his head coach and is impressed with the first two days his teammates had.

    "It's going great, people are ready to go and fired up," Lorig said. "It wasn't as much as a drop-off as its been in the past at the start of camp, its now kind of like a continuation of spring ball. We are zoned and we know what to expect, it's a good starting point."

    Focusing on the little things is how this veteran unit is preparing.

    "We are really trying to focus on sharpening skills, we are there with the effort," Lorig commented. "And we are working on our pass rush, everybody wants to get a sack right?

    "And stopping the run game is essential and the heart of the defense. Right now we are really honing in and getting better and faster on their technique."

    Added to the veteran depth is several highly-touted newcomers. "It's a tremendous opportunity for those young guys to learn from these veterans," Harbaugh added.

    The defensive line weren't the only players who caught the eye of Harbaugh

    "Stepfan Taylor has been impressive and Drew Terrell, two young really polished kind of guys," Harbaugh said. "And Jamal too, you can really see the talent there.

    "And kind of impressed with Busby. Pleased the way he jumped in there at quarterback and how he responded, it was nice."


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