Offense-Defense: West Notebook

Rains drenched the fields at Coastal Carolina this morning for the first day of practice at the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, but that did not stop the West squad from getting out and doing some hitting. The team's initial practices were highlighted by some spirited 1-1s between the offensive and defensive line units.

These guys have the toughest task I think out of any position at an All-Star game
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because they are working with a new group of wide receivers and sometimes, the timing isn't there. As a result, there were a good number of incomplete passes at the beginning of the afternoon session, but as the day went along, I thought all three did some nice things. Raymond Cotton has the strongest arm of the bunch. He has a rifle and a couple receivers who let his heaters get into their chests found out how hard they are to catch. Jordan Luallen is accurate and has good touch as well. The one thing with him that may need to change is his throwing motion and he tends to bring the ball low before his release. He's also a kid who stands out more in games than just in shorts because he's athletic and can make plays on the run. Chris Garrett throws the ball down the field pretty well, but was the most inconsistent of the three passers today.

Running Backs
David Oku was not here today as he missed his flight. The other two backs, Jamal Miles and Aaron Hardwick are both smaller, but they are quick and showed the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well. With all the West skill guys, the plan is to get them in space and I think that could turn into some big plays for Miles and Hardwick.

Wide Receivers
Chad Bumphis is explosive and was the most consistent of the receivers catching the ball today. Caleve Deboskie let the ball get to his pads early on, but he really picked it up later and made several catches during 7-7s. He is a smooth route runner who has good quickness out of his breaks. Jerry Rice Jr. seemed to take a second to adjust to the velocity of some of the passes coming his way, but he ended up doing well. He runs nice routes and caught the ball with his hands. The receivers on the West are all on the smaller side, but the one kid who brings some size is Shawn Lynch, who at 6'2, could be a downfield and redzone target for the team this week.

Tight Ends
Tough to tell a whole lot out of this group today. They did some blocking work and Reid Fragel really excels there. His technique, size and ability to move at that size makes him a great run blocker. He runs much better than a kid who is 6'8, 250-lbs should. He will surprise more and more people as a receiver as this week moves along. His counterpart, Ryan Hewitt is not the physical specimen that Fragel is, but he made a couple of nice adjustments on the ball.

Offensive Linemen
The west line should be quite good. The standout was Ivory Wade. Wade has good strength and picked up quickly on the techniques the coaches were stressing. This allowed him to rarely get beaten during 1-1s. One time, he was beaten with a quick inside move, but this was all while working at tackle and he is likely going to play guard at Baylor. The other two linemen who fared well in the 1-1s were Sam Womack and Matt Goetz, both were beaten a couple times, but both put up fights every time and did a nice job keeping the defense away for the most part. It was clear to me in watching Laurence Gibson today that he needs weight room work as he was beaten by the bull rush several times. Everett Benyard saw out most of practice with an injury, although he was standing and walking around.

Defensive Linemen
The player with quite possibly the best practice today was East St. Louis' Ty Phillips. He is very explosive off the ball and has a variety of moves that allow him to get around would be blockers. He particularly was impressive with his hands, as he did a good job shedding and keeping them from locking onto him. Colton Nash has a great frame and some athleticism to go with it. He needs to play lower, as he tends to let his 6'6 frame get too high and the coaches were having him work on dipping down more and gaining a leverage advantage. The team was experimenting with having two standup OLBs as rushers and Nash was one of them. Kevin Young is not quite his listed 6'4 (6'2-6'3), but did a good job getting to the quarterback with his quickness off the ball. When linemen locked onto him, he had trouble getting off the block though. The future Nebraska Cornhusker had his biggest battles with Ivory Wade, who is headed to Baylor, so those two will see each other again. Montez Robinson and Dequinta Jones caught delays and missed today's practices, but will be into town tonight.

The group mostly worked on coverage today although Chicago Hubbard's Darius Moffett was also looking like he might try standing up and rushing off the edge. Moffett is a good looking kid at 6'3, 225-lbs. He has the frame to still add weight and he moves around pretty fluidly. Trevor Erno also looked pretty good in coverage. We'll know more about this group later in the week, once they start hitting more.

Defensive Backs
Anthony Sanders made a couple of nice plays on the ball, including in interception. He and Tommie Hopkins seemed to be two of the faster players out there. Hopkins is skinny, but can really run and hit. He should have a good week.


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