Today was the first day for the team in shells (helmets and shoulder pads), which presented new challenges. A new quarterback entered the fray, and the cornerback position is rounding into shape, as well.
Junior quarterbacks Travis Wilson and Kendall Thompson both looked better today. Both threw the ball away rather than force a throw for the most part. WIlson threw the ball away several times on plays where there was pressure and no one open, rather than forcing the ball or taking a coverage sack. Thompson did the same on another play. If such game IQ is consistent, it means fewer negative plays and unnecessary hits on the Utes' quarterback. On a Rowe blitz, Wilson quickly threw a screen to Kenric Young, who turned it into a nice gain.
Redshirt freshman Connor Manning continued to stay for a half hour after practice, but this time he had company. Manning took the time to work with newcomer true freshman Donovan Isom to work on his throws and rollouts. (Love the leaderships on Manning's part.)
Today was our first day seeing Isom practice, albeit not in the scrimmage. He's big and has a strong arm. To put it into perspective, he's only slightly smaller and about as bulky as Wilson; however, watching Isom practice a few rollouts, he has the speed and athleticism to be a threat outside the pocket and on the move. Isom is a very exciting talent for the future of the program.
Junior college transfer wideout Tim Patrick also had a catch on a screen when his defender blitzed (pass from Thompson). Patrick almost had another catch except for nice defense from sophomore cornerback Reginald Porter. (Porter has looked great in camp.) Kaelin Clay had a couple catches today as well. Delshawn McClellon is doing well too, and he is looking like the favorite to start at H receiver. Tyler Cooperwood, another late JC addition at wide receiver saw some action in the slot, but I don't believe he had a catch. The receiving corps looks deep this year. I really like Tim Patrick, and I hope he gets some playing time this year.
Tonga and Gonzalez both had catches today. The pass to Tonga realistically should have been picked off by Norris, but he made a bad play on the ball. Evan Moeai was open on a busted coverage but was overthrown (by Thompson I believe).
We got to see a bit more from the backs today now that shoulder pads were on. Booker was not afraid of contact and was running very hard. McCormick's speed was on display. He also has good balance. He had one run on a sweep where he would have been gone if Travonne Hobbs didn't trip him up. Dre'Vian Young had several nice runs where he got to the second level and had a nice catch out of the backfield. The offensive line looked a bit better today. They were opening some holes for running backs and did a bit better in pass protection. Poutasi looks a little heavy to me (he walked by me when he left) but better than last year.
Loved Tevin Carter's coverage of a Travis Wilson scramble. He kept his body square and made sure that Travis' only option was to take the yards he'd gotten already and head out of bounds.
Offensive Player of the Day: Dre'Vian Young - he had a couple nice runs today, including one of the longest of fall camp to this point.
Defensive player of the Day: Porter - he made a great play to break up Travis Wilson's pass to Patrick. He's definitely been the strongest and most consistent cornerback in camp thus far, which is saying something, given the other side is manned by senior Eric Rowe.
Also, Wilson recognizing a blitz and getting the ball out to Kenric Young, who was able to get a good gain from it.
Quote of the Day: Dennis Erickson said he's old. In response to being told he has wisdom, he responded "I like you. You can interview me anytime." (Editor: Alex had to thoroughly wash his nose afterward.)