U of L held its longest practice of camp thus far on Tuesday, and according to Rocco Gasparro the standouts were an up-to-strength Willie A. Williams and the continually impressive Bilal Powell.
Bilal Powell continues to impress. He made upper class linebacker miss him numerous times in a tackling drill. It was pretty mind-boggling that this kid is a freshman.
Connecticut coach Randy Edsall confirmed the not so bold predictions of many a blogger on Tuesday when he named Junior College transfer Tyler Lorenzen as his starting quarterback. Edsall had previously stated that he was in no rush to name a victor in the battle between Lorenzen and sophomore Dennis Brown, but after two weeks of camp it had become apparent to just about everyone in Storrs that the 6-5, 226-pound Iowan was the guy.
"We have decided to name Tyler as our starter for the 2007 season," Edsall said. "We feel that it was a good competition between Tyler and Dennis but that Tyler has clearly solidified himself as the number one quarterback at this point. Dennis will be a more than capable backup. I am confident in his abilities. I know that he will be a solid number two and will give us a great performance if needs be. I feel like it is time to go forward from here with Tyler as the number one and have the whole offensive unit working together."
Lorenzen is a JuCo All-American who produced a 26 TD/3 INT season in 2006, and should be able to take a great deal of pressure off sophomore running back Donald Brown. He may be celebrating V-Day at the moment, but with Notre Dame transfer Zach Fraser eligible in 2008, the fiercest of his offseason battles is likely yet to come.
High school legend and Wake Forest transfer Ben Mauk made his first big push for the starting quarterback job at Cincinnati when he completed four of six passes for 100 yards and led the offense on three scoring drives during an intrasquad scrimmage over the weekend.
"He made some Big East throws out there today," new head coach Brian Kelly said. "He's got a demeanor about him and an experience about him. Obviously playing a lot in the ACC gives you that."
I've been saying it since Mauk announced his intent to transfer, and I think this quote confirms it; Brian Kelly wants Ben Mauk to be the starter. He's a far better fit for Kelly's offense than Dustin Grutza or Tony Pike, and as long as that right arm continues to heal properly I think he's going to be the guy.
After giving both Chris Quaye and Blair Bines first crack at the position, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano is now giving Damaso Munoz a shot to be his starting middle linebacker. Former walk-on Brandon Renkart has been named a team captain and will hold down one of the outside linebacker positions, while junior Kevin Malast is holding off highly-touted freshman Manny Abreu for the other, but middle linebacker has been a concern for Schiano all offseason and after more than two weeks of camp he's officially hit panic mode.
One of the biggest things we're going to be hearing about two or three weeks into the season is just how much the new kickoff rules have affected the game. Foreseeing this, Schiano has spent an increased amount of time focusing on kick coverage and has stated that he will use the best players available on special teams this season, regardless of where they are on the depth chart.
"Our punt team, it doesn't matter who you are -- if you can do the punt, you're on it," Schiano said. "I think people will have to go that way with kickoffs now too." And that in turn means, "Maybe you have to use a guy you wouldn't have used on that team," he said.
I don't particularly care for him, but Schiano is a hell of a coach and he is ahead of the curb on this one. Expect a bevy of teams to throw defensive starters or contributers onto their kick coverage teams around the third week of the season.
Pitt's prodigal freshman returned on Tuesday, as prized quarterback Pat Bostick made his first appearance at training camp after leaving the team for seven days to deal with "personal issues." The Wannstache said he believes Bostick will begin practicing at full speed today, and didn't rule out the possibility of him working his way back into the competition for the starting job.
Bill Stull and Kevan Smith must both be incredibly unimpressive at this point for him to say something like this. There's no way that Bostick could be named the opening day starter without all hell breaking loose, and yet Wannstedt is still in a place where he's willing to entertain the daydream. I'm not high on Stull either, but Bostick's strange departure made him the starter by default for at least the first two games of the season.
There were more issues at Pitt camp on Tuesday as the quarterbacks continued to have trouble handling snaps from the center, and the special teams produced a blocked field goal, a fumbled punt, and a missed extra point.
"I can't even talk about it right now," Wadnnstedt said.
Injuries are quickly putting a damper on all of the preseason hype down in Tampa. The Bulls lost their fastest player, wide receiver Colby Erskin, for the season when he tore his ACL during a Saturday morning practice, and the injuries on the offensive line are adding up at a meteoric pace.
Jim Leavitt has had NINE offensive linemen who have been slowed by injuries since spring practice. Starting left guard Matt Huners tore his ACL in the spring, while starting right guard Danny Tolley has been hampered with a groin injury and will sit out until at least this weekend. Seven other linemen, including three starters, were held out of contact drills on Monday. RT Walter Walker (left ankle), LT Marc Dile (knee), RG Zach Hermann (flu), LG Ryan Schmidt (left ankle), C Kevin McCaskill (right foot), OT Joe Herzhauser (right wrist) and C/RG Sampson Genus (slight concussion) all spent the day resting.
After giving his team the day off on Sunday, Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson expected a lively and productive day of practice on Monday. He didn't get it.
"I didn't like our day today," the normally upbeat coach said. "We took a day off, came back and acted like we were going to take two days off. We better figure out real quick, if we want to take days off, we're going to have problems. We didn't practice the way we're suppose to practice. I haven't said that very often since I've been at Syracuse. This team better get it right. You don't just walk out and it happens."
Robinson named sophomore Andrew Robinson the starting quarterback over the weekend, and designated Cam Dantley as his backup on Tuesday. The only other two quarterbacks on the roster are 17-year-old David Legree and 18-year old Cody Catalina, both of whom are considered works in progress.
The competition is fierce for starting positions in a West Virginia secondary looking to improve on its 2006 ranking of 109 in pass defense. While Eric Wicks and Quinton Andrews are locks to start as strong safety and free safety respectively, sophomore Guesly Dervil, junior college transfer Ellis Lankster, senior Antonio Lewis, sophomore Kent Richardson and seniors Vaughn Rivers and Larry Williams are all battling for the two open cornerback positions.
"Right now, I could flip a coin and be just as effective as trying to pick the right guys," said DB coach Tony Gibson. "It's that close."