Posts Tagged ‘Spring’

2010 Campaign: A New Identity

April 11th, 2010

Post Scrimmage Press Conference Summary

Nick Saban, like many other successful coaches in the college ranks, demands that his team creates an identity that defines its season. This team is well on their way to establishing an identity for the 2010 campaign.

That new identity can is similar to the Policeman's motto: "Protect and Defend."

The defense stepped up its effort in the second scrimmage of the spring. Coach Saban repeatedly stated that he was pleased with the progress of the defense and their ability to put pressure on the quarterback and create turnovers.

Turnovers and interceptions were the result of better defensive play.

"Consistency and performance define success and the players have shown great progress in adopting this strategy," said Saban.

The defensive line is showing expected growth, the secondary is making great strides to improve and perform to expectations. Kendall Kelley is prepared to play safety if he is asked to play the position next season. He is a converted wide receiver. He will continue to be used on offense, as well.

The monster released in Marcel Dareus during the national championship game continued to stalk the ball carrier in Saturday's scrimmage. He finished the day with 10 tackles and five sacks. Dont'a Hightower was not far behind with eight tackles and two sacks.

Robert Lester had four tackles and one interception from the safety position.

Despite the pressure by the defense, Greg McElroy completed 17 of 27 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown (11-yard reception by J. Jones). McElroy threw two interceptions in the scrimmage.

AJ McCarron was successful on 17 of 30 attempts and connected for three touchdowns. True freshman Philip Sims completed 15 of 19 passes for 139 yards and one touchdown. Star Jackson was 10-of-17 for 91 yards.

Julio Jones lead all receivers with 11 receptions for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

Eight others receivers reeled in three or more completions on the day. 

The kicking game performed well for the second scrimmage, as they did in the first spring practice game. Cade Foster made four field goals of 27, 32 24 and 33 yards.

Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and Julio Jones received special commendation for their effort in the scrimmage.

The battle for the third running back position was on this week.

Eddie Lacy had the opportunity to carry the ball 10 times in the scrimmage. He gained 28 yards and scored one touchdown.

Demetrius Goode had three receptions out of the backfield for 79 yards and one touchdown.

Nico Johnson and Chad Lindsey were held out of the scrimmage due to minor knee sprains. There were no significant injuries during this Saturday's scrimmage. Every scholarship quarterback had the opportunity to play in the scrimmage, Saban was pleased with all four—despite the effectiveness of the defensive line.

Alabama has two more practices before the A-day game. They have the opportunity to review the film of the previous two scrimmages in order to make positive strides for the final spring scrimmage. Practices will be held on Tuesday and Thursday.


Ex-QB Keith Nichol Expects to Become a Weapon for Michigan State

April 11th, 2010

In the offseason, several important things happened for the Michigan State football team: Greg Jones opted to return for his senior year, four high caliber players returned to the team following criminal charges, and Keith Nichol was made a wide receiver.

Nichol was listed as a wide receiver for the Spartans' bowl game, mainly due to the lack of players on the roster due to legal issues. Nichol proved he was up to par as a receiver.

For most of the season, Nichol had been in the midst of a quarterback battle with Kirk Cousins, who was eventually named the starter. The Alamo Bowl gave him a new avenue to take to make the everyday lineup. Keshawn Martin and Nichol bore the load of the receiving duties for the Spartans against Texas Tech, and Nichol showed that he could compete.

After coach Dantonio tapped Nichol as a wide receiver, he went into the offseason with a new goal, to bulk up and become a quality receiver. Over the winter, Nichol added 10 pounds to his frame, bringing him up to around 220 pounds for the spring workouts.

Dantonio commented that Nichol would get the majority of his reps at the wide receiver position, but that he would remain a choice at quarterback if need be. Keith has been taking around 80 percent of his work at wide receiver this spring and just around 20 percent at quarterback.

Kirk Cousins is the starting quarterback for the foreseeable future and his backups are redshirt freshman Andrew Maxwell and the newly recruited true freshman Joe Boisture, who has enrolled early. 

Nichol said that he wants to become a weapon at the wide receiver position for Michigan State. Teammates have said that he is "explosive" and "one of the fastest" during the spring practices.

With Keshawn Martin taking a wide receiver spot and with the return of Mark Dell to the team, it looks like if Nichol wants a starting spot, he will have to battle some of the Big Ten's best.

But, he has the speed and strength and he has experience as a quarterback, which might become invaluable as a receiver because he will know what QB Kirk Cousins is thinking and how he will react to different defenses. This is one of those intangibles that everyone is talking about. He will have the instincts to be able to know when to break and come back to the quarterback or know when the ball is about to be released and to where by reading the defense through the eyes of a quarterback.

Any way you look at it, Nichol stands to make a big difference on this year's Spartan football team, whether it be through his play or through his leadership with his teammates. Michigan State is lucky to have a man like this on its team. Nichol is willing to make sacrifices to benefit the entire team and he truly subscribes to the mantra, "play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back."

Five Things We Learned This Week: Arizona Wildcats Spring Game

April 11th, 2010

1. Position Battles Still Wide Open

What we saw from the spring game is that all of the jobs that were open before are still open now.

All three linebacker positions are open, though it seems that Derek Earls has all but locked up the spot in the middle. Arizona played five other linebackers to try and get a look at who could step up and make an impact on the field. No other linebacker looks to have a secured spot. (Jake Fischer and RJ Young got the most first team reps)

The safety position opposite Robert Golden and both defensive tackle positions are open as well.

Safety Adam Hall had an excellent game as he was all over the field but Joe Perkins took most of the first team reps, with Anthony Wilcox also getting an extended look.

At defensive tackle it is still anyone's game, but Lolomana Mikaele seems to have secured himself a significant role in the rotation. Otherwise, it is a wide open battle.

Marcus Benjamin seems to be in the driver seat for the corner position opposite Trevin Wade.

There was a constant shuffling of players as they seemed to mix and match to get a feel of who could mesh well with the other players the best.

2. Sloppy Play Highlights Spring Game

The offense was very sloppy from start to finish.

In the first three plays, Ricky Elmore had "sacked" Nick Foles twice. The Bash Brothers (Elmore and Brooks Reed) combined for three sacks on the day.

On the day the quarterback play was very inconsistent and receivers dropped too many wide open passes. Combined, the quarterbacks threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Not all of the sloppy plays were on offense, though. The defense missed tackles and let the running backs get extra yards where the could have gotten stops.

None of this comes as a shock. It is April and this team still has a lot of kinks to work out before the first game of the season, just like every other team in the country.

3. Vanilla Playbook in Full Effect

Mike Stoops admitted after the game to not wanting to show anything in the game.

This puts the offense at a big disadvantage because it limits what they are doing and what they have been practicing.

Stoops and Co. have done this in the past, and while it limits the film that can be built up for opponents to use, it also makes for a very bland game that doesn't show the public what they can expect for the season.

Wildcat fans, don't worry, though. They'll still be able to put up large numbers on the scoreboard this season.

4. Taimi Tutogi Getting a Real Shot At Running Back Position

If there was one player that stood out during the spring practice it was Taimi Tutogi.

The 260-pound fullback was put on display in every aspect of the offense at the Spring Game. He blocked, ran, and caught the ball.

Tutogi ran the ball more than any other running back on Arizona's roster. He also made the biggest play of the game, a 73-yard catch where he dragged the defender 15 yards before being piled on.

The Wildcats really like what Tutogi brings to the offense and don't be surprised to see him as the goal-line back pounding it into the endzone.

Tutogi was used very little his freshman season but expect to see a lot of the bruising back this upcoming season.

5. "Cheetah" Put on Display

Arizona's new defensive co-coordinators have implemented a new defensive scheme and they call it Cheetah.

They call it that because it puts three or four defensive ends on the defensive line and six defensive backs on the field.

This will likely be used in third-and-long situations, utilizing speed to put pressure on the quarterback. It will be a fun defensive scheme to watch. When it was used in the spring game, you could feel the buzz on the defensive sideline to show it off for the first time.

Auburn Football: April 10 Football Tidbits

April 11th, 2010

A week from the big spring A-Day game and excitement is rising. ESPN was on site at Auburn on April 7th to film footage for “College Football Live”.  Spring has come with optimistic intentions to the plains of Auburn.

Photos of the April 3rd scrimmage and other Auburn events might be interesting to some fans. Interviews after the April 7th practice session are interesting with coaches Malzhan and Roof.

Much information is becoming “Top Tiger Only” and the public is not being allowed much access at this point. Here is the latest update for Shon Coleman . The Auburn Family is pulling for him and his family.

Receiver Philip Pierre-Louis injured his knee in scrimmage last week and had to undergo a medical procedure for repair. It was not the knee he had injured previously. Auburn fans all hope for a speedy recovery. He has had more than his share of bad luck.

Offensive lineman Bart Eddins is also being hampered by a knee injury. He has also been bitten by the injury bug more than his share.

Linebacker Harris Gaston has missed much of the training due to a wrist injury he is recovering from.

Linebacker Daren Bates is still no contact while recovering from post season surgery.

Auburn fans can expect the commitment announcements for some top recruits at the A-Day game. The 2011 recruiting class is looking very strong indeed.

The entire coaching staff has commented at some point of how far the team is ahead of expected progress at this point. It would appear the pre-season excitement around the Auburn football team is well founded.

The Royals Hate Mike Aviles and Mitch Maier

April 10th, 2010

We're four games in, and it would seem that Trey Hillman feels that both Mike Aviles and Mitch Maier haven't sat enough to fully cool off from their torrid spring.

Both men all but forced their way into their spots on the 25-man roster entering Spring Training.

In 21 games and 57 plate appearances, Aviles hit .471/.517/.725 with one-third of his hits going for extra bases (three doubles and five triples).

Not to be outdone, Maier triple-slashed .475/.530/.814 in 66 plate appearances with five doubles, three triples, and three homers. Collectively, they drew 13 walks, while only striking out eight times.

Given that Maier is the Royals' best defensive center fielder and that Aviles is their "most fundamentally sound infielder ," it would only stand to reason that they would not get to play, after the team made moves in the offseason in the spirit of building a stronger defensive team.

Reason, of course, as it applies to how the show is run in Kansas City.

Considering that they were the team's hottest hitters coming into the regular season, the rational thought being incorporated here is encouraging...

Combined, they have one pinch-running appearance.


Could someone please steal the compromising photos that Yuniesky Betancourt has of Hillman or Moore—maybe Treyton Millman—and give them to Aviles? 

I think we all trust his surgically repaired throwing elbow more than Betancourt.

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