First Impressions from Thursday North practice

January 26, 2017

Another crisp North practice this afternoon under what looked like delightful weather conditions. And while a lot that went on simply confirmed what we saw yesterday – Temple LB Hassan Reddick just kept on making plays – there were several new observations. The North offensive line, for example, was better against the DL, at least in individual drills. In particular, USC OT Chad Banner had a much better practice today. While he isn’t going to make many blocks in space, the massive Banner had a solid day using his length and strength to consistently redirected opposing edge rushers away from the pocket. Indeed, Banner had a shutout going until his very final play when he was a tad slow to set up and had Reddick blow by him for a strip sack.  Indiana OG Dan Feeney, who actually worked at C during the one-on-one pass pro drills, also looked more like an All-American than he did yesterday when he got caught lunging and off balance on more than one occasion. Today, though, Feeney was solid on his feet and his technique was near flawless; he also showed terrific range moving around the pocket.

On the other hand, Bucknell OT Julien Davenport, who was arguably the most athletic offensive lineman on the North side yesterday, really struggled today. Too often, Davenport allowed opposing edge rushers to get into his pads and knock him off balance and he just didn’t have the strength to recover. Pitt G/T Adam Bisnowaty also struggled again today as he was consistently pushed deep into the pocket.

Pretty nice day for the Michigan DTs Ryan Glasgow and Chris Wormley, both of whom did a real nice job shedding blocks on a consistent basis and pressuring the backfield. Notre Dame DE/DT Ike Rochell also had another very good day, especially when he worked inside where he was just too quick for the North interior offensive linemen.

It was also another good day for Eastern Washington WR Cooper Kupp, who never looks all that fast, but always seem to be open as he has that ability to make those quick subtle cuts into open space; he also continues to catch just about everything coming his way. Same story for Louisiana Tech smurf Trent Taylor, who was really quick running underneath routes. The most impressive North WR today, though, was East Carolina’s Zay Jones, a longer guy who showed some real long speed along with good concentration and soft hands when the ball was in the air.

West Virginia CB Rasul Douglas also had a strong day as he broke up several passes and was very sticky in coverage using his 6-2 length and nice recovery speed, although he did slip a couple of times when forced to change direction quickly. Fellow CBs Jourdan Lewis of Michigan and Iowa’s Des King were also solid again in coverage.

Other notes: The North coaches did some mixing and matching along the offensive line asking several players to change positions for at least part of the practice. As noted above, Indiana OG Dan Feeney worked at C during the pass pro drills, while Baylor C Kyle Fuller worked at OG, as did Western Michigan OT Taylor Moton, and Temple G/T Dion Dawkins spent the day at OT … LB Connor Harris of FCS Lindenwood also continued to make plays in both run defense and coverage .. Better day for Illinois DE/OLB Dawaune Smoot who never got off a block yesterday but blew by some people and nade some plays today, although pro scouts still likely would like to see more consistency … RBs Corey Clement of Wisconsin and Toledo’s Kareem Hunt both showed well in the pass pro drills with the OLBs.