This was the "veteran" players practice, it was interesting that a few freshmen were there, specifically Trea Jones. Besides Jones, I think Lowell Williams was the only other true freshman out there. Williams is pretty thin, so I think it was just a matter of splitting the LBs up, but the presence of Trea Jones could mean something.
And we were all pleasantly surprised to see the players in full pads today. That meant hitting, which added a whole new dimension to practice.
I was with a few friend who have seen their fair share of CU fall practices. They noticed the same thing that everybody has been saying: These practices look faster/crisper/(insert your own positive adjective) than practices of the past few years. Guys know what's going on and they're really into the practices. The prime example of this today was during the O v D section. Ryan Miller was really pumped up, cheering on the 2nd O-line and very vocal with his fellow first-teamers. Everybody seems excited to be there working hard.
In the mini-scrimmage, the O-line managed to open some good-sized holes for Stewart and Lockridge. While the O had most of their first-teamers there, the D was missing a few key guys (who presumably practiced in the morning).
A bunch of the D-linemen look thicker than they did last year. Curtis Cunningham and Will Pericak both look more powerful in the lower body. Pericak had of couple of good plays against the O. He's learning the nuances of his position. He did the right thing on a couple of runs, and sank down to stand up his blocker and clog the line.
At TE, they did split DeVaughn Thornton wide on at least one play I saw. His ability to do that (as long as his blocking is coming along) will give us some offensive flexibility. Ryan Deehan has been lining up like the FB on a few plays. Since we lack a true FB, he may have to sacrifice some plays to fill the position. The flexibility that those two guys can give us will spice up our spread offense a little bit. Making the Defense guess isn't something we've been great at recently, so that'll be nice.
We seem to be stretching the field a little more on offense (finally, right?!?). Partly because we finally have the talent to do so. We're still going to see the three-yard out to Scotty McKnight, but it hopefully won't be the staple of our O.
Anthony Perkins and Parker Orms may not be the biggest DBs, but that doesn't stop them from hitting hard. Orms is very strong.
Because there were fewer players out there, guys like Jones, Williams, and Thornton got some valuable one-on-one coaching and instruction. There was lots of technique work. The TEs worked on hand placement and footwork in some full-speed blocking drills. The RBs worked on staying low at full speed. Hagan would roll an earth ball at them and they had to get low, and either bounce off the contact or spin off the contact. It teaches the backs to stay low, but not too low and not to wait for the contact.
The snapper that was out there was new walk-on Ryan Iverson. He had some good snaps, and some mediocre ones. Zach Grossnickle looked good in warmups, and then once they went with live punting drills, he looked a little less good. He wasn't getting great distance on his kicks and one of them was blocked. Aric Goodman and Justin Castor both had mostly good kicks, but we couldn't tell how many went in.
Anyway, that's about all I've got for you today. The energy was good. These practices have been making me feel a little more optimistic about the season. I might do a little speculative post soon.