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Early Spring Practice Insights
Written by EC Rules   
Friday, 26 March 2010 09:35

The first of 15 practices is now in the books and the team and staff are all smiles. A natural infusion of some new blood (staff and players) and the excitement of the first day led to a really solid practice. If you saw the Spring depth chart and then compared it to who was playing the first day you know that the only thing it's good for is comparing weight gains for each player. There is going to be a TON of movement every practice and the first day was no different.


Amongst the reports, we did begin to see some things that are either new or have confirmed earlier thinking. Let's take a look:


Washington starting at corner

Probably not fair to say he's starting. He was running with the 1's all day though over at left corner. One of those head scratchers on the depth chart as they had Simmons, Hayward, and Washington stacked three deep on the right side and then pretty much just Aire Justin over on the left. That probably means that left corner is not the natural spot for either of the three but it only took one day to see one of them move over. Justin was absent and Nolan Washington took most reps with the 1's. Let's hope he holds that spot for the next four years. A Simmons and Washington combo with Hayward playing a lot is something to be excited about. Between the four guys (Simmons, Justin, Hayward, Washington) this is a legitimate battle for two starting positions that pits four Pac-10 quality players against each other. No more ten yard cushions off the line of scrimmage Coug fans!


Jacobson and Gonzales at offensive tackle

Tyson Pencer is going to be in and out while working on academics. Bad news for him and good news for Wade Jacobson. He made some noise yesterday with his attitude and his performance. It will be interesting to watch how quickly Morton moves both of the JC players up the depth chart. Early talk about Gonzales redshirting but as we discussed in the Oline preview….there is just no way that happens if he shows capability that is even on par with the others. Offensive line needs to be solved quickly and it's an all hands on deck situation until they show that they can keep QB's upright. Offensive line still looked a little sketch yesterday but no need for alarm just yet as it's new guys, a new coach, and slightly altered scheme. Watch to see where the tackle spots play out the next couple of weeks though.


Rankin at defensive tackle

Ranking was at defensive tackle about 75% of the time yesterday. This confirms grumblings that he was going to be a flex type of player. He was also probably the most active player on the line yesterday. He's undersized at 271 pounds for a tackle but he's got five more months before Fall camp starts. It's not unreasonable to expect that he'll be in the 280-285 range by then. It's a shame to have to use him at tackle but it's hard to argue that it's unwise given our woeful depth at tackle and relative quality at defensive end. We could be scary in pass rush situations with him at tackle.


Strong Safety is going to be a dogfight

Man, this is going to be another fun position to watch. Chima is the entrenched starter but he's going to be really pushed by players that are flat faster and pretty hungry for playing time. Jamal Atofau and Casey Locker are there along with Tyree Toomer. Another phenomenal situation if you think about competition and quality players.


We are slowly but surely transitioning from the point we were over the past two years. For certain units we are starting to see legitimate position battles rather than average players being gifted a spot simply because no one was there behind them. We still have some significant holes and talent gaps on certain units but the bucket is starting to fill up with some quality. Should be interesting to see how the depth chart evolves over the next month.

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