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Practice Report: Day Two

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Woodny Turenne automatically made himself the biggest story on day two simply by showing up wearing the same thing as everybody else. Turenne was apparently given the OK by the NCAA Clearinghouse on Friday, and was able to practice with the team for the first time.

It was difficult to gage Woodny's performance right off the bat since he didn't see much action in the drills with the offense. In his only rep during the man coverage drills Wolfe hit Thompson on a slant, and the ball never came his way during the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. At one point he lined up opposite Harry Douglas and you could feel the crowd start to buzz, so naturally a run play was called.  

Even if he didn't have the chance to really show his stuff, Turenne was easily the most talked about player on day two.

It's been great to see how receptive the veterans have been to the new guys these first couple of days. I talked about Harry giving pointers to the younger receivers Thursday, on Friday I noticed both Bobby Buchanan and Travis Norton (who had a very good day) giving tips to Woodny Turenne, and over with the linebackers it was Terrance Butler who was constantly talking helping out Willie Williams.

This is a very good sign, especially when you consider that some of these guys are competing for positions. It's also excellent to know that the new guys aren't afraid to ask questions.

Scott Long, Scott Long, Scott Long, 2008, 2008, 2008. That is all.

I was impressed with junior receiver turned cornerback Marcus Folmar who made two very nice breakups during 11-on-11. Of course he was then promptly jacked in the face by Harry Douglas when he tried to hand check him in the cover two.

Brandon Heath snatched the only interception of the day when he cut in front of a receiver (I can't remember who) on a slightly underthrown deep ball and secured the sweet pick. Heath may have notched an extremely premature one up on Jon Russell, who was beaten deep twice and complained both times that he "wasn't loose."

Rod Council again participated in the individual unit drills during the first hour of practice, but sat out all the defense vs. offense drills. He looked to me to be limping slightly but I might have been seeing things (I also saw Scedric Moss eat a dude).

I'm very impressed with C.J. Peake who appears to possess the instincts and athleticism to be an immediate contributor.

Having a bit more difficult time with the full transition to the secondary has been Bilal Powell, who got torched a couple of times by Trent Guy on Friday. He and Johnny Patrick took some lumps on the second day, the latter receiving a tongue lashing via Mike Cassity at one point.

For the second day in a row Chaz Thompson had to be told that there was no contact in the man-to-man drills, and for the second day in a row I didn't hold it against him.

The coaches on the whole seemed more vocal on Friday. As is normally the case, it was the defensive coaches doing the majority of the yelling, although none other than Steve Kragthorpe himself gave an earful to Tyler Wolfe at one point for not breaking the huddle or calling the play in the huddle correctly.

Proper huddle etiquette seems to be a hot button issue on both sides of the ball.

While the coaching staff was noticeably more talkitive on day two, it was still a far cry from a Bobby Petrino practice and you could hear some of the natives questioning whether or not that's a good thing. Personally I prefer to view it as a difference in philosophy as opposed to a regression, but I suppose the ultimate test starts in a month. Some guys perform better when there's a coach in their ear and others don't, we all just have to hope that the majority of our guys are mature enough to the point where they don't need constant authoritative supervision to do their jobs.

Though he did get angry at least once, Steve Kragthorpe may be the most positive head football coach I've ever been around in my life, and I've been around five. If you do something right, you're going to hear about it, and your first name will be used.

Brian Brohm had a much better day as he and Hunter Cantwell both made all of us watching from the sidelines feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Brohm was near perfect during the individual drills with the receivers, and had a much better day during the hour two drills.

Hunter Cantwell did prove he was human by underthrowing Scott Long on a deep ball, thus failing to achieve the virtual perfection he had a day prior, and forcing all Cardinal fans to begin discussing his Lohan-esque fall from grace.

It's impossible for anyone with a football IQ over six (little known fact, football IQ's actually work on a scale from one to ten...google it) to be sold on a freshman quarterback after two days, but I must admit that Matt Simms has quickly begun to alleviate many of the doubts I've harbored for months about him.

Simms only took a pair of snaps during 11-on-11, but he still made the throw of the day when he unleashed an absolute bomb that landed perfectly in the hands of a streaking Scott Long (2008). Also, perhaps due to being free of the first day jitters, he displayed the ability to put touch on the ball when touch was called for. I'm never going to be in love with his throwing motion as long as it stays the way it is, but so far he's showed great arm strength, solid accuracy, and absolutely no intimidation, which is all you can really ask for at this point.

Also, the kid never stops moving. I'm not sure if it's by coaches order or if he's just been forgetting to take his Ritalin, but every time you look over at the quarterbacks, number five is doing jumping jacks, bouncing from side-to-side, or doing the Fred Astaire dance number from Top Hat. He's what those in the sports world refer to as "animated."

Super Mario seemed to be in a better mood on Friday. I didn't see one drop and there was much more bounce in his step.

Guy, Thompson and Spillman all posses about the same quality of hands and the same speed, but when you watch them run routes it becomes apparent why JaJuan is going to see the most playing time. Spillman never rounds off a cut and as a result he creates much more space between himself and the receiver than Guy or Thompson do, even though they all possess the same ridiculous quickness.

JaJuan had a lot of balls thrown his way, and he made the most of it, putting forth what I thought was a fantastic practice.

Douglas is easily the best route runner on the team, and I think Scott Long is a not-so-close second, but I think the case could certainly be made that Spillman is the third best on the squad right now. I say right now because I think by the end of the year it'll be an honor that Doug Beaumont may very well be able to lay claim to. He's got great hands but even better feet. It's going to be difficult to keep him off the field.

The special teams guys got together and worked on kick coverage which I was happy to see since I think it's the third biggest cause for concern at this juncture, right behind the secondary and depth on the offensive line. We gave up far too much field position last season, and with the new rules I think we're going to have to see some quality players manning up on the unit.

A number of players were handling the return duties, including Spillman, Guy, Beaumont, Patrick and Council. Willie Williams was one of the guys working on the coverage team which is something I, selfishly, hope doesn't change. WWII was impressive again, but I'm counting down the days (and judging by his mannerisms so is he) until he gets to hit somebody.

Kragthorpe is apparently big on having the running backs call for the ball when they flare out and see that there's nobody covering the flats. I say this because George Stripling drew significant praise for doing just that during 7-on-7.

The running backs were again a bit of a mystery due to the nature of the practice, but each did receive at least one touch during the second hour drills. Again it was Allen taking the first snaps, followed by Bolen, Stripling and Spencer.

Victor Anderson got his first carry and was nearly decapitated by an easing, albeit still monstrous, Willie Williams. Dale Martin was given the last carry of practice, and was promptly ripped for not running the play out. Though he may not have made the first impression on the coaches that he was looking for, Martin and his enormous legs certainly pass the visual test. One of the biggest reasons I'm looking forward to the Murray State game (right behind it signifying the end of my consistently random outbursts of tears) is that we're all going to get the chance to see guys like Martin, Anderson and Simms (who I wholeheartedly believe will take snaps in the fourth quarter) in actual game situations right off the bat.

It's highly exciting if you're a huge college football dork, which I am, hence the excitement.

For the second day in a row I was impressed with the progress that Josh Chichester has made in a very short period of time. He showed exactly why we all must be patient with him when he jumped right over Bobby Buchanan to snag a deep ball thrown by Tyler Wolfe. Buchanan was in perfect position, he just wasn't 6-8.

I'll reiterate that it's difficult to judge which side of the line gets the better of the other when practice permits only limited contact, but the guys on the first-team defensive line seemed to be having their way at times on Friday.

I love when the 11-on-11 drills start because you can just see - and hear - how excited the guys on both sides of the line are to get to hit, if only just a little bit. The defense brought heat on the first play, and had it been live, Brian Brohm would have gotten drilled by three different guys at the same time. The O-line did tighten up a little bit after that, and Kragthorpe threw a couple of early running plays into the mix to keep the linemen and linebackers honest.

I made it a point to take special notice of Mike Donoghue's play, and I actually thought he performed as well as anyone on the line. He consistently held off big Earl Heyman, which is certainly no easy task.

There were far less dropped balls on Friday then there were on Thursday. The only real unforgivable ones (and I'll still forgive them) committed during the offense/defense drills were made by Scott Kuhn, Zach Meagher (who's much faster than I thought), and Pat Carter, who appears reluctant to go over the middle even when he knows there's no contact. Carter will run the same routes perfectly and without easing up during the man drills, but once there are linebackers out there he likes to pull the stutter step/jump catch move.

It's amazing how Brohm and Douglas seem to ALWAYS be on the same page. Brian could badly miss seven straight throws to other receivers and I still believe he'd hit the eight and the five square the moment he saw Douglas open. It has to have something to do with some sort of superior sense of timing.

Cantwell is the same way with Urrutia, and Brohm is nearly the same way with Barnidge who, again, possesses more speed than the other guys at his position.

I haven't mentioned Barnidge yet (besides the line immediately preceding this one), and he definitely played well enough on Friday to at least warrant a mention. Given Brian's propensity for involving the tight end, I'll be shocked if he isn't our third leading receiver once again.

For whatever reason Todd Flannery insists on wearing a headband and knee-high socks in 90-plus degree weather. Whatever gets that leg ready pal.

Not sure if it was punishment or what the deal was, but at one point freshman linebacker Patrick Grant was being forced to hop on one leg and crawl with one arm (at the same time mind you) for about 40-yards. Pretty fun to watch, almost certainly not as fun to do.

Finally, for those of you who are visual learners, the great jbocardfan has assembled all the local coverage of the first two days of practice into one easy to view YouTube video. Enjoy.