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Captain Kangaroo

August 17th Practice Notes

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Dr. Z and I were able to take-in our first practice since the beginning of summer camp today. It was difficult to make any profound observations, as the day was split into roughly 80 % drills, and 20% scrimmage situations. 

 

  •  Nate Stewart was the star of the day. One-handed catches, sideline catches while heavily covered, TD's...he did it all. Coach Arth singled him out after the practice as and example of a player who competed on every play with maximum effort. He stated "Nate hasn't taken off a play, he hasn't asked to get a breather, he hasn't done anything but work hard the entire camp." Look for a huge year from Nate in 2019.
  • It is interesting to see six quarterbacks practicing. Kato is the obvious #1. Robbie Kelly looks to be the #2. But the kid getting the next highest amount of reps was true freshman Zach Gibson. He made some nice throws, and acquitted himself well today. 
  • Some bizarre jersey numbers today, as Zach Gibson wore #50, RB Michiah Burton wore #59, RB Peter Hayes-Patrick wore # 67 and QB Nick Demchuk work #55.
  • On the injury front - Hayes Patrick looks to have hurt his finger shortly after making a nice, 15 yard scrimmage run. Maverick Wolfley's day was over after he hurt his elbow on a crossing route. Julian Hicks was on the sideline wearing a tank top, with an ice pack on his shoulder.
  • Deltron Sands and Keyondre White wore red shirts, and were relegated to drills on the sidelines. 
  • One player who seemed to take advantage of Jonah Morris and Julian Hicks' absence was Dustin Burkhart. He pulled in a nice 40-yard TD catch from Kato while being covered fairly well. Has a TD in a short yardage slant over the middle, and made multiple other nice plays over the course of the day.
  • The Zips will be anything but predictable when inside the opponent's 5 yard line this season. The offense showed multiple looks, with slants to both sides, QB keepers, flea-flickers...this ain't the old "hand it four times to Cody Grice up the middle" Zips.
  • On a several occasions the InfoCision speakers would blare rock music to simulate crown noise.
  • We saw Nick Johns split out as a WR a few times.
  • Former OL's John Neeley and Eric Bentley round out what Coach Arth feels is a solid 9-man rotation on the defensive line. Much better than the 5 DL's we had in the spring.
  • At the end of practice Arth stated the defense won yesterdays practice, and the offense won today. So tomorrow is the rubber match.
  • Boogie, Dre and Alvin rotated returning kick-offs. Each one of those guys can take it the distance.
  • Per Coach Arth, Dre Williams is rounding into form after missing the spring with an injury. Landon Forman was also singled out as someone who missed the spring with an injury, but who's having a solid summer.
  • Lots of parents in the stands, as this is Parents Weekend. They had a seemingly well-attended tailgate prior to the practice in Lot 9.

 

More to come later. I know Dr. Z got some nice photos. Arth spoke to us after the practice. I'll transcribe it tomorrow.

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I'll add a few notes.

 

• The sophomore running back Brandon Lee is fun to watch. I'm guessing he is hard for the defense to find behind the line at 5'6. He seems to go hard at every drill. 

• Easy to forget, because fans are used to it, but Alvin Davis was noticeable during live action having at least one interception. Jalen Hooks also had a nice pick.

• One of the most unique drills of the day had coach Arth with boxing gloves trying to punch out the ball from receivers and running backs. Another coach had a baseball bat with a head cover taped to it doing the same. 

• After practice Josh Ward told me that this team is really coming together, he said the team is night and day from where they were in the spring. 

• I was told by a senior lineman that the run game has many more plays in it this year, and he thinks fans will notice. Kato has the ability to call audibles at the line, and has said to be doing a nice job of it. The lineman also commented that fans will notice the offense huddling up this year. 

• John Lako dropped deep in zone coverage to tip a well thrown pass by Kato. 

• In a very limited viewing of Peter Hayes-Patrick, he grabbed my attention. He looked to have moves, power, and an attitude with the football in his hands. 

• I'll second CK's comments on Nate, he looked like a legit number one out there.

• Michiah Burton (pronounced ma-KAI-ah) was involved in the run game, he was also pointed out by an upperclassman as one of the freshman that stood out to him. 

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Post-practice with Tom Arth – August 17, 2019

 

 What were you expecting to get out of today’s practice...what were the practice-specific goals, and did you see it on the field?

 

“I guess in some instances we did. Every day our goals are very similar. We want to come out and give the very best effort we can. We want to compete at a high level throughout the duration of the practice. For the most part I think we did that. I challenged the team today. I kind of questioned whether or not every single player we have in our program gave everything they had throughout the duration of the practice. There were some inconsistencies, and that’s an area we’re really trying to focus on. We need to become a more consistent group. Over the past couple weeks, we’ve had some really good days...we have some days when the offense has a great day and the defense struggles...and then the defense has a great day and the offense struggles. So we really just need to find that consistency. That’s what we need throughout the remainder of camp, working up to the start of the season.”

 

 

At what point does the switch flip from getting better...defining your 2-deep roster...learning plays...to focusing on preparation for Illinois?

 

“I don’t think you ever stop trying to get better. At some point here, probably next week, we won’t necessarily start to focus on Illinois, but we’ll start learning how to go through a game plan. Learning how to go through an in-season practice week. Developing our scout teams, making sure the scout team players understand the type of effort we’re looking for...the type of looks they have to give...and viceversa. The first and second units have to go hard in order to give the scout team the freedom to go hard. If the one’s and two’s aren’t giving everything they have, the scouts are going to be a little bit slower. So next week we’re going to start building in some of those periods. We’ll start training and developing the scout teams and really getting ready for everything necessary for the start of the season.

 

 

Where do you feel the team is today, as opposed to where you’d hoped you’d be at the start of the camp?

 

“I’m happy with where we’re at. I think we’ve made a lot of improvement. Who we were in the spring is very different that who we are today, and that’s a real credit to our players...their hard work and commitment to our program. We’re playing at a much higher level right now than at any point in the spring. That’s what you look for is that constant improvement. At the same time, you’re never satisfied. You’re always pushing them and challenging them to get better and to improve. I think the biggest positive out of camp has been our attitude, and the effort we’ve given. We’ve come out just about every single day put forth great effort in our practices. Now we need to continue putting forth that same effort, but also execute consistently.”

 

 

Obviously Nate Stewart was a rock star today. Can you give me the names of a few players that have caught your eye...guys that maybe you only have seen on tape, or in limited reps in the spring, who are shining in camp?

 

“Nate had a great day today, has had a great camp thus far too. Andre Williams has been really exciting to see. We didn’t get a chance to see him at all during the spring time. This being the first week and a half of camp, this is his first time practicing in a long time. And the first time playing in our offense. It’s taken him a little while to hit his stride, and in these last few practices we’ve really seen what he can bring to our offense. And that’s been really positive. Landon Forman is an offensive lineman that was out all spring. But what he’s shown us over the past couple weeks has been really exciting.”

 

 

Considering there are so many new faces on defense, how do you feel things are coming along on that side of the ball?

 

“We certainly feel a lot better (than in the spring). We have a lot of depth on our defensive line. That was a position where we might have had five guys in the spring time, and ideally, we’d like to have a nine-man rotation. I think we have nine guys right now that we feel confident can go out there and make plays for us.” I feel really confident in our defensive backfield. The freshman that have come in have added a lot of really good depth. It’s exciting that we have some young guys that are pushing for starting positions in the secondary.”

 

MU 8-17-19

 

 

Here is link to the coach Arth interview.

 

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Thank you guys. You don't know how much this appreciated by those of us who can't get to practices and scrimmages. Well done! 👍

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