2009 Texas Vs The Nation Day Three Practice Report by Sigmund Bloom on 01/29/09 The team practices on Wednesday were low-impact, no pads affairs. The Nation team mainly worked on plays, and the Texas team had a similar mix of one on ones and team drills as the Monday and Tuesday practices. You might think this was a letdown, but the reason the teams didn’t go full speed in their practices was a one hour combined practice with an extended pit and scrimmage between the two squads. This part of the week was cancelled due to weather last year, but it was the most exciting part of the week leading up to the game in 2007. The players are under a lot of pressure, being at this intense crossroads of their life. Everything they’ve ever worked for is on the line, and getting to play something like real football for the first time in weeks, or even months in some cases, is clearly a huge release of energy. This hour of practice had more emotion than the entire week at the Senior Bowl or the Shrine Game. 7 on 7 The seven on sevens (or “skelly”) between Texas and Nation was mostly filled with checkdowns and errant passes. There were a few great moments: - Davon Drew (TE-East Carolina) made an athletic, leaping catch, only to have Reshard Langford(S-Vanderbilt) separate him from the ball. Drew later did a good job sitting down in a soft spot to make a play. - Dudley Guice (WR-Northwestern St-La.) kept his week of making plays going with a catch of a low ball over the middle. - John Matthews (WR-San Diego) got behind the defense and caught a long bomb from Mike Teel(QB-Rutgers) for a TD. - Mark Parson (CB-Ohio) jumped a deep out from Chase Patton (QB-Missouri) and returned it for a TD, even though Patton looked to the other side of the field before turning to deal to the opposite sideline. - Lardarius Webb (DB-Nicholls St) made an aggressive pass breakup, continuing his momentum from an excellent week of practice. The Pit The Pit was scintillating - One sideline, Texas offensive lineman battled with Nation defensive lineman, and their counterparts clashed on the other. The reps were staggered to give us non-stop action from the big uglies. Every player got at least five reps, and against opponents, so we got to see how they matched up against players with different strengths. Here’s a summary of most player’s highlights of the drill: OL Alex Fletcher (C-Stanford) had an outstanding day, pancaking Zach Potter, handling Nader Abdallah, Driving Potter outside when they met again, and defeating Rulon Davis because he didn’t let Davis get his arms free to fight. Rich Ohrnberger (G-Penn State) stood up junkyard dog Adrian Grady to win once, and in another battle, he was not daunted by Grady’s spin, and in yet another tilt between the two combatants, he absorbed Grady’s punch. Gerald Cadogan (OT-Penn State) ran Cyril Obiozor way past the QB when he tried to speed rush him. Jose Valdez (OT-Arkansas had a dominant day. He absorbed Julius Williams bull rush and threw him down, and he used good feet and strength, to hold up Derek Walker. We didn’t see Valdez get beat all day Stanley Bryant (OT-East Carolina stymied Henry Melton, absorbed Ian Campbell’s signature grab and push to thwart him. Robert Brewster (OT-Ball State) won most every battle with good feet. He absorbed Derek Walker one on rep, gave ground to Walker, but guided him past the QB on another, and pushed Walker past QB in a third matchup. TJ Lang (G/T- Eastern Michigan) has emerged as one of the best offensive linemen here. He batted Nader Abdallah around, not giving him any ground, he absorbed a Rulon Davis punch before defeating him, he lifted Cyril Obiozor off his feet, and in one of the two or three most impressive wins of the day, he beat Adrian Grady to the punch off the snap and kept him at the line of scrimmage. Cornelius Lewis (OT-Tennessee State) passed with flying colors as we didn’t see him get beat or even statemated once. He absorbed Pierre Walters bullrush easily, dominated Ataefiok Etukeran, and later he mirrored Walters speed rush with ease. Garrett Reynolds (OT-North Carolina) hung tough on most battles with good feet, using them to anchor and hold his ground, and also to recover when initially beaten. Dallas Reynolds (C-BYU) held up massive Terrance Knighton, and he was one of the few to beat Khalif Mitchell when he stood him up at the snap. Colin Brown (OT-Missouri) displayed nimble feet for a man mountain, and pancaked Julius Williams. Blake Schlueter (C-TCU) was the most technically sound offensive lineman in the pit. He absorbed a heavy club from Terrance Knighton and regained his feet on his most impressive rep. CJ Davis (C/G-Pitt) didn’t let Nader Abdallah move him with a push pull, and mirrored Abdallah’s spin. Lydon Murtha (OT-Nebraska) was light on his feet, but he also pancaked Pierre Walters, and he recovered well after getting pushed back initially by Julius Williams. Jeremy Davis (G-NW Missouri St) was often beaten at first, but he showed nice recovery more than once. He also absorbed Terrance Knighton’s bullrush, and deftly mirrored Demonte Bolden after a nice spin move. Roger Allen III(G-Missouri Western) beat Knighton with brute strength and pancaked Khalif Mitchell Andrew Hartline (G/T-Central Michigan) had a great day, generally owning Nader Abdallah, literally absorbing Abdallah’s best shot on one rep, and getting a good push off the snap on another. DL Zach Potter (DL-Nebraska) got outmuscled a few times, but after his coach implored him to “use your hands”, he kept his Nick Hennessey (OL-Colgate) from getting into him and won easily. Terrance Knighton (DT-Temple) used his swim to win twice, once almost untouched, and flashed a strong club and punch on Maurice Miller (OL-Ole Miss) Khalif Mitchell (DT-East Carolina) was a force today. He handfought successfully to get free from Dallas Reynolds, beat Roger Allen easily once, and beat Maurice Miller easy once. He used his strength, to get an incredible push on Schlueter to defeat him. Demonte Bolden (DT-Tennessee) won most of his battles, jolting back Michael Brown (OL-Alabama A&M), and running one of the best motors in the pit. Cyril Obiozor (DE-Texas A&M) landed a crushing strike on Joel Bell (OT-Furman), got under Cadogan to beat him once, and looked exceptionally quick one on rep as a DT. Rulon Davis (DL-California) flashed an awesome outside swim that forced Michael Brown to tear his shirt trying to hang on. Davis’s handfighting was the best of any defensive lineman. He used it to keep Ohrnberger from getting into him one on decisive win. Ian Campbell (DE-Kansas State) held his opponent’s hands and pushed him back into the QB on one win, just as he had earlier in the week. Louis Ellis (DT-Shaw) landed a great punch on Hennessey, and his devastating punch on Bryant made the coach say “It’s about time” He was beaten initially by Michael Brown, but used a spin to win, and he also beat Ohrnberger with a great initial push. Henry Melton (DE-Texas) abused Bell with a club and spin to win about as quickly as anyone won in the pit today, and beat Garrett Reynolds with brute strength. Adrian Grady (DT-Louisville) has won us over. He crushed Hennessey - who skidded a few yards after Grady struck him, and like Bolden, Grady won with his energy and motor on most reps. Moton Hopkins III (DE-Tulsa) won with his motor after absorbing Garrett Reynolds best punch of the day. Ataefiok Etukeran (DE-Georgetown) won with a push pull. Nader Abdallah (DT-Ohio State) eluded his opponent with a perfect swim (but fell on the way to the QB), and he executed a good bull rush when Michael Brown popped up too quickly and got too high. Will Johnson (DT-Michigan) slapped Schlueter to stagger him and win in the pit. The Scrimmage Two QBs from each team got to guide the offense for five plays, or until they turn ball over or scored. There was a crew of five officials governing the plays, and the energy from the sidelines was palpable, especially the Texas sideline. David Johnson(Tulsa) - Demonte Bolden sack, after Roger Allen III missed his assignment - A 4-5 yard pass to Jordan Norwood (WR-Penn State), Colt Anderson (S-Montana) came up to hit him very quickly - Bernard Scott had a short run, Anderson comes up to make the tackle again - Johnson left too early from a good pocket established by Valdez and Brewster and ran for a short gain. Turnover on Downs Mike Teel(Rutgers) - Abdallah blew up a running play with a swim over Hartline, 2 yard loss by Anthony Kimble (RB-Stanford) - Teel sailed two passes over Dobson Collins (WR-Gardner Webb) head - Collins was open on both - A first down on a pass to Collins on a 15 yard square in, He got behind Michael Reed (LB-Central Oklahoma) in his drop and got seven yards running after the catch - James Holt(LB-Kansas) stripped the ball from Kimble on a draw after about 9 yards, Brannan Southerland (FB-Georgia) threw a crushing lead block Sean Glennon(Virginia Tech) - Tarrion Adams (RB-Tulsa) showed good leg drive after contact at two yards on a five yard gain, Antonio Appleby(LB-Virginia) fought through a block to make the play - Glennon airmailed a pass because Etukeran pushed Colin Brown back into Glennon as he was throwing - Glennon hit Mike Jones (WR-Arizona St) on a deep out. Jones made the tough catch with great extension of his long frame, Parson had tight coverage. Gain of 13 yards - Glennon sidestepped pressure from Will Johnson and moved up in the pocket to hit Johnny Knox (WR-Abilene Christian) for a 47 yard TD. Knox torched his man with at least five yards of separation when he reeled in the catch. The Texas sideline flooded onto the field and celebrated like they had won the Super Bowl. Curtis Painter(Purdue) - Conredge Collins (FB/RB-Pitt) had a nice run on first down up the gut for nine yards. He made a subtle but effective cut to find the hole - Rashad Bobino (LB-Texas) stopped Yonus Davis (RB-San Jose State) for no gain - A miscommunication between Jason Chery and Painter (Chery went out, Painter threw an in) caused an incompletion - Zach Potter tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage - Jaison Williams had a nice downfield 15 yard catch from Painter on a deep out Farewell El Paso We’ve covered this game from the beginning in 2007, and for the third straight year, John Murphy, the city of El Paso, and the entire staff of the Texas Vs The Nation made us feel at home all week. We thank them for the unfettered access we get to the players, and we hope to be covering this game in fifty years. Be sure to tune in to at 3 PM Eastern Saturday on CBS College Sports Network to watch the game.