Thanks in part to our own Ira Schoffel, who offered a full recap of Thursday’s practice, here are the special teams skills and ratings from Friday’s practice:
*In the first game of a two-minute attack, Jordan Travis hit Malik McClain for a bomb on the ground in the vicinity of 50 meters. McClain jumped up and caught a jump ball over the top Fox Green and another defensive back.
* McClain would add some nice extra holds in individual and team drills, including a deep shot against Azareye’h Thomas and a difficult back-of-the-shoulder effort in which he pinned the ball to his chest through contested coverage.
*On the second play of a two-minute attack, Treshaun District broke a long touchdown run.
*Tight ends made for tough catches today. At first, freshman Powers of Jerrale came down to catch a low ball in the middle. In exercises 11 against 11, second year Jackson West made a contested hold on a mid-depth throw of Tate Rodemaker. Daniel Preston tips himself Tatum Bethune.
*Speaking of Bethune, today was my first chance to be there to see that camp practice. Although I was well aware of his talents in the spring, Bethune shone again today as he made sudden and violent movements around the ball. Sometimes we get into a rhythm of looking at plays and taking notes. Bethune is a player who will take you out of that rhythm for good reason.
* The run defense flashed consistently in the 11-on-11 drills. No surprise, but to gain traditional rushing yards down the middle on guys like Robert Cooper and Fabien Lovettthe Seminole offense will have to do some serious work.
*Recipient Johnny Wilson did what Ira called a “highlight” by jumping over Omarion Cooper. Wilson flashed in a few other plays, including a backspin shoulder grab that required good footwork on the sideline. While I was on the other side of the court, Ira was front row for this one and said it looked like Wilson had both feet.
*The coaching staff spends a lot of time working with the receiver Deuce Spann, which again had a deep hold today (and a big open drop). After calling out his brutality at the post, Norvell praised Spann in his post-workout speech.
*Face to face, Demorie Tate made a good pass breakup but couldn’t finish the game with an interception. The diversion actually ended in the knees of Kentron Poitier, who took it for a score.
*In team exercises, Jarrien Jones jumped a AJ Duffy swing/bubble pass for a big play in the backfield.
*Recipient Joshua Burrel made a few plays today including an over the back hitch against Kevin Knowles II and a touchdown in the 7-on-7 job. Burrell has also been down but has some positive moments after a quiet spring.
* Knowles flashed with an interception of a Rodemaker deep pass intended for Ja’khi Douglas.
*Pokey Wilson showed his speed a few times today, including in a rep against Jones.
* Quarterbacks have each had their moments. Jordan Travis made some nice sideline throws for back-shoulder completions in addition to his first bomb. Rodemaker made a very nice rolling throw to his right to Burrell and showed good balance in a zone reading look. After deciding to keep the ball as the running back was tackled, Tate took off, rolled a right, shot and hit an open Johnny Wilson.
*On the special teams side, kick returners included Spann, Trey Benson, Sam McCall, Ja’Khi Douglas, Lawrance Toafili and Pokey Wilson. Working on punt returns was Mycah PittmanThomas, Mike Roussos and Keyshaw Helton.
* It should be noted on special teams that in some of the blocking drills that continued into the spring, the execution was significantly better on Friday. Gunners made far fewer plays, however Amari Gainer flashed in one particular rep as he fought through a block to land a big punch.