Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Practice Wrap - 8/14

Just took a look at and Sports Illustrated’s preseason Top 20. USC is on top – no surprise there – followed by LSU and defending national champion Florida.

But I found it interesting that TCU wasn’t included. Boise State was the only team from outside the Pac-10, SEC, Big East, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 on the list.

So no Air Force opponents on there.

On to some notes …

Who stood out: Junior defensive end Jake Paulson. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder missed a good chunk of last year because of a dislocated elbow, but he showed signs of becoming a pass-rushing force when he was on the field. He clearly put on some muscle in the offseason, and he’s looked good during the first two weeks of practice. Tuesday he showed good quickness and moves in a one-on-one pass-rushing drill.

Side note to anyone planning to come watch a practice at the academy: Do yourself a favor and spend some time watching defensive line coach Ron Burton. “Intense” doesn’t even begin to describe him. He’s high-energy and at top speed all the time. His attention to detail is astounding. During the one-on-one drills, he had precise critiques for each player – from where they placed their hands to how quickly they moved off the ball to where they were focusing their eyes while trying to beat an offensive lineman. Burton’s group of linemen could surprise people this year. Inexperienced but bigger and stronger than what many probably expected.

Lasting image: More dropped passes. I watched primarily the defense Tuesday, but within a five-minute span, a pair of on-the-money passes went through the hands of backs Ryan Williams and Chad Smith.


JohnR34231 said...

Paulson is a stud. I'm just praying he stays healthy.

Anonymous said...

1) Speaking of D-line; whats up with Ryan Gonzales? Why isn't he starting? Looks like Tarzan. Plays like Jane?

2) Are practices really that much more intense than DeBerry's. Deberry didn't win 160+ games with lackadaisical practice. I just think its pre-season hype for the new coaching staff.

jake.schaller said...

Hi guys,

Couple things:
-Yes, Paulson is impressive, and like you said, it's imperative that he stays healthy. If he does, he could be pretty good this year.

-I have a story on Gonzales planned for later this week or early next week. But here's the deal - great size (a legit 6-foot-3, 300 pounds), great strength (bench presses near 500 pounds) and lots of potential. He's just raw. He needs to add some pass-rushing moves to his repertoire and get some experience. Even if he doesn't take over the starting spot, he'll play plenty of snaps.

-As for the practices, I understand the point. And I don't think anyone is suggesting DeBerry's practices were lackadaisical. But there is a new energy and intensity that, yes, is probably due in part to the excitement over having new coaches (and the players wanting to impress them). But it's not so much the intensity as much as it's the pace of practice. Calhoun's sessions are meticulously planned and scripted and there is an emphasis on reps - getting as many in as they can and fixing problems afterwards when in the film room.

But it will be interesting to see if the pace continues.

Thanks much for your comments.