By Justin Renck and Steve Rummage:
*Be sure to check out the photo gallery at the bottom of the post!*
In the midst of March Madness and the men’s basketball Cards possibly making a deep run, I spent a couple of hours on Saturday morning with other fans at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium’s practice fields as I watched the Sugar Bowl champs in an open practice. It honestly got to the point where I had to remind myself that the basketball team had a game later on against Colorado State. I felt like I was watching practice for a team that was about to take the field in a week to start the season!
The biggest thing that jumped out at me was this: Dominique Brown is back! He is listed at 6’2 and 226 lbs. He runs with the power of someone 250 lbs, and we all knew that. But what I also saw yesterday was someone who was making the quick cuts and moves of a 200 lb running back. In a drill where a running back had the ball and was heading straight for a defender (with only about 5-7 yards of space laterally), Brown made a juke move and made a defender FALL TO THE GROUND! In this drill, it was hard to ever get by someone because there was not much room, so most guys got tackled or had to run over the defender. Brown made the whole team and crowd go “OHHHH!!!” with his quick move.
Speaking of running backs, Brandon Radcliff was also impressive. He also combines size and speed. He is 5’9 and 220 lbs! Ever since I saw his high school highlight video, I have been excited to see him on this level. I know his time will come since we always have a stable of running backs. This could be the year that we see him get some touches. I honestly think Senorise Perry could be like Dominique Brown last year. Probably not ready for the first few games, and then if Brown, Radcliff, and Corvin Lamb are getting the job done, Perry can just redshirt. Still a long time to go before that would be decided, but that would not surprise me at all if that is how it plays out.
I told Steve during practice that its amazing that we have kept this coaching staff in tact for this long. We are probably loaded with future head coaches on our staff. The intensity this staff brings is awesome and fun to watch. Even during stretching drills, the coaches are yelling and keeping the team focused. If a mistake was made, the players knew their position coaches would be in their face. On the other hand, if a big play was made, the coaches are also there to let them know “good job”. The relationship between the players and coaches looks great.
Spring Practice could be described in one word: Intense! The team was really getting after and seemed to be in Mid Season form. You could feel the energy and Swag radiating off these guys, they are good and they know it. There was plenty to be excited about but what jumped out to me was the amount of talent at the skill positions (QB, RB, TE, WR). Seeing Gerald Christian in action for the first time was impressive, dude is big and fast. The thought of Christian coming down the field blocking for Dom Brown should make all of us smile. The WR core seems to be picking up right where they left off, they were all VERY impressive. Great catches were happening left and right and this was a WR core that will soon add Milton (injury) , Rogers (injury), Harris (Injury) and Quick (Freshman).
As for the QB’s…. Teddy Bridgewater, Enough Said
As good as we look on Offense we may be even better on Defense. This is the same Defense that locked the UF passing game up and folks, they are a year older now. The only notable changes outside of Bushell graduating was Nick Dawson now being at DE. We have seen Strong change people’s positions before and from the looks of things this one is going to work great as well.
All in all the Cards look every bit as good as their Top 10 ranking. This should be a special season and if this weekends practices are any indication it’s going to be a fun ride on the Train this year.