I attended the third and final open football practice on Tuesday afternoon. My goal was to bring you pictures from what I saw accompanied with my thoughts on how the team looked and what you might be interested in. Moments into warm-ups, I was approached and told there was no photography allowed. I tried explaining that millions of Nunnsense and Cardinal fans would be disappointed but my plea fell upon deaf ears and the no photography order remained in place. So I will just tell you what I witnessed with the promise of bringing Spring Game photos in about 10 days or so. Thanks for understanding. That’s why I love you Card family.
The first thing that stood out to me is running back Dae Williams. His size is unbelievable. He has been compared to a young Michael Bush as far as physical structure. To me, the red-shirt freshman resembles a young Marshawn Lynch. Maybe it’s just the combination of the hair hanging out the back of the helmet and the power beastmode style of running. Whatever it is, it caught my eye and I liked what I saw. Although there was basically no contact, he still hit the holes with authority and never dodged a would be tackler. I think this guy would run through a wall for you. He is the perfect fit for the Petrino pro-style offense that loves the power back. He also caught a lot of balls in this practice. I never saw him drop, or ever bobble a pass no matter if it came from Lamar of Jawon. Jeremy Smith was not on the practice field and I couldn’t get an explanation as to why, so big #40 took most of the first-team reps.
The second thing that stood out to me was the defense. It’s so hard to tell what the play or drill was supposed to be in a practice but the whole day just had the vibe that the defense was getting the better of the offense. Not sure if they were practicing short passes or defensive coverage was that good but it seemed the quarterbacks had to check down and throw a lot of short passes. The usual suspects remained at their spots but I noticed the absence of Chucky Williams. Not sure why he was not out there but P.J. Blue filled in nicely at safety. I think P.J. is going to see a lot of playing time and I am happy about that.
Stacy Thomas had a nice interception of Jawon Pass and nearly held on to a second interception. He is poised for a big year.
The receivers on this team are a dream come true for Lamar. Jaylen Smith is still out recovering from a broken foot so other receivers are getting a chance to prove themselves. Javonte Bagley continues to look good this spring.I really enjoyed watching Dez Fitzpatrick go up against Jaire Alexander. You want to be a better receiver? Go practice against the best cover corner in college football. Dez did exactly that and did it well. This kid runs such clean and precise routes and has the ability and size to go get the ball at it’s highest point. He is definitely going to be a super star before he heads to the NFL. But the receiver who looked the best was Seth Dawkins. I can’t count how many passes he caught. I didn’t see him drop a pass all day. Having Jaylen on one side with Seth on the other and Reggie in the slot will make for many sleepless nights for ACC defensive coordinators.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, C.J. Avery is a beast. This kid is an early enrolee. He should still be in high school getting ready for prom. Instead he is out there looking like he has been here for 3 years. He is a physical specimen and he just looks like he wants to hit somebody. Keep an eye out for #9 on defense this year. I’d say he end up starting at the “star” position. I think that’s great news for the good guys and terrible news for the bad guys.
I think it shows just how far this program has come and how many great prospects are on this team when you don’t even hardly notice that the reigning Heisman Trophy winner is just out there flinging balls around. Yes. Lamar looked great and you would think that most of the 200 people in attendance were there just to see him but most people came out to see the whole team. I know they lost a lot on defense and the offensive line was, well, offensive last year but I truly believe that this team has the potential to be right there on the verge of the playoffs again this year.
I hope to see all of you out at the Spring Game on Saturday, April 15th at 1:00.
As Always, GO CARDS!