After warmups, sjunior Kevin Monangai started his juke pattern with running backs coach Darrius Smith, and the final spring practice was underway. The day consisted of many position-specific drills, plus a few 7v7 scrimmage periods.
Managers Matt Grasso and Joe Vilotti were nice enough to allow me to be up on the roof next to them as they took their film for the team. Below are some observations from the 2 hour practice session.
Notes from spring practice: April 12th
- Jamal Abdur-Rahman (SO, WR) looked in prime shape after spending most of last season injured.
- Both Kevin Monangai (JR, RB) and Austin Medley (JR, RB) had strong showings this morning. The two are most likely sharing the load of carries this season.
- Javon White (SO, RB) had a 30-yard run up the sideline. He could see a fair share of touches and increase his load as his confidence increases.
- The team is looking to fill Dan Shirey's spot in the roster. Shirey was the lone remaining player from the 2009 championship team.
- 3rd string QB Cody Pittman (SO) put in a lot of great throws today, including a fade route towards the sideline during the second scrimmage.
- John Robertson (SO, QB) took some throws, however was not in pads. He is currently recovering from a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. He threw seldom, however running the ball is still his strong suit. On many occasions he would tuck the ball in and run up the gut, getting past linebackers each time.
- The Wildcats are eager to open their season in upstate NY against the Syracuse Orange. The Orange ended last season with a Texas Bowl win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
- Chris Gough (JR, PK) was sharp on his punts, booting one 60 yards in the air.
- While Robertson struggled with some throws, he was on point in goal-line situations with TD's to Kevin Gulyas (SO, WR) and Abdur-Rahman.
- Lorenzo Fertitta (FR, DB) had a huge interception during the last scrimmage, ripping the ball from his man.
- While Robertson is the sure starter, Pittman had better throws overall. The injury to Robertson was most likely the cause of this observation.
On the final punt of the day, Gough was able to down the ball at the 2 yard line. The entire team stormed the field in celebration and sang "Ole, Ole, Ole."
Before ending practice, Coach Andy Talley gathered the team for a few words. The team dispersed in cheers.
This weekend is Candidate's Weekend for all prospective students. The main campus was full of high school seniors, club tables, music and food. Likewise, next year's football class came to watch practice from the grandstands.
The team looks ready to improve on last season's 6-5 record! The season begins on August 29th in Syracuse.