August 7, 2008
8/6 Sights and Sounds
Paul 'Unga James Brooks, Kyle Williams, Gerell Robinson, Jamarr Robinson, Shaun DeWitty and Grant Crunkleton were among the players who made a big impression in Wednesday's camp practice. Read about their performances and those of a number of others in this edition of "Sights and Sounds." The defensive units were a little more static on Wednesday with Saia Falahola making the move to first-team tackle to fill out a line that also includes ends Dexter Davis and Luis Vasquez (now wearing No. 49) and tackle David Smith. Gerald Munns was flanked by Mike Nixon and Travis Goethel at linebacker with Troy Nolan at free safety, Rodney Cox[db] at strong safety and [db]Omar Bolden and Terell Carr at the corner spots. The second-team defense featured James Brooks, Jonathan English, Spencer Gasu and Jamarr Robinson left-to-right on the defensive line' freshman Shelly Lyons at MIKE, Oliver Aaron at WILL, and Chad Lindsey splitting time with Derrall Anderson at SAM; Angelo Fobbs-Valentino and Max Tabach splitting reps at free safety, Clint Floyd at strong safety; Pierre Singfield and Travis Smith at cornerback. The third-team defense went Lawrence Guy, Zeb Togiai[/db], Paul Unga and Eric Tanner left-to-right on the line with Bo Moos mixing in at tackle; Anthony Reyes at MIKE, Brandon Magee at WILL and Ryan McFoy at SAM.
Thomas Weber hasn't been written about much because, well, he's Thomas Weber. Fact of the matter is there isn't much to write about. Weber made a 55-yarder on his second attempt Tuesday (the first attempt wasn't a particularly good hold) and on Wednesday he made a 42-yarder and 47-yarder and made it look easy. He did however, hit the upright on a shorter attempt. They'll probably let it slide and let him keep his starting job. When you're the first freshman to win the Lou Graza award as best kicker in the country, you get a little slack.
One of the best things we saw Wednesday was the blitz pickup work of Shaun DeWitty, who was doing an excellent job getting leverage and a good consistent lick on the blitzing linebacker he was responsible for. Nobody got past DeWitty and to the quarterback, something none of the other running backs could say. Additionally, DeWitty ran hard and was effective carrying the football in his team-work reps. He's probably the best third-down back on the roster and he'll get a chance to run with the rock in scrimmages and we'll see what happens from there.
Paul 'Unga was more than obliged to take advantage of an inexperienced and unsure Patrick Jamison, who was lining up with the second-string offense at left guard on Wednesday. 'Unga beat Jamison with the exact same inside side-step swim-type move two plays in a row before the drill ended and tight ends coach Dan Cozzetto quizzed Jamison, perhaps about whether he was listening closely enough in the day's breakout session.
Kyle Williams appears to be back to his old self after uncharacteristically struggling at times during the spring practice schedule. Working out of his slot position, Williams had his lightning-fast jitterbug feet working overtime on Wednesday, catching two ball over the middle and breaking each one off for a huge gain after the catch. Williams has seemingly caught every ball in his vicinity through the first few days of camp and his foot speed is unmatched by any receiver on the roster, which is saying something considering there is quite a bit of talent at the position.
We noticed that Danny Sullivan was locking in on his primary target and telegraphing his passes in "skeleton" work, which is essentially 7-on-7 and apparently we weren't the only ones who noticed because just a few snaps after we mentioned it to another report, Mike Callaghan jumped a route from his safety position and took an interception the other way for a touchdown. Sullivan seems to do a better job setting up his passes in 11-on-11 work, but he needs to work on keeping the defense more honest in 7-on-7 work because it's a good place to learn tricks which carry over to "team" segments of practice.
It's rare that you see linebacker coach/defensive coordinator Craig Bray express a lot of dissatisfaction with one of the first-teamers in the unit, but that's what happened on Wednesday when he decided Munns wasn't giving enough of an effort in run support. "If a lineman is in the way, I want you to run through him," Bray said, suggesting that Munns didn't look aggressive enough in film study of the previous day's practice.
Grant Crunkleton had a good off-season, being a leader in the team's informal workouts, helping to teach new coach Greg Burns' preferred technique, and getting a lot of pass breakups. That solid play has continued in the first few days of camp. Despite working with the third-team defense -- and some may make a reasonable argument that it makes his job easier -- Crunkleton has stayed positive and continued to work hard, and he had two pass breakups on back-to-back plays Wednesday. The effort and attitude displayed by Crunkleton and players like him is invaluable when it comes to having veteran team-first players.
We noted in this space following Tuesday's practice the rapid improvement of Gerell Robinson with his route running and he against deserves recognition for his performance on Wednesday. Robinson caught as many or more balls than any of his teammates, did not have a single drop, and worked hard after the play. The biggest receiver on the team, Robinson is a guy that has would-be tacklers bounce off him. He's a guy who can be a big YAC (yards after catch) receiver and a vital red zone target.
In one-on-ones we like to see effort and technique. Guys that have a good motor and can back that up with good footwork, leverage and upper body usage are players we can watch all day. It's also important to have a relentless approach. Jamarr Robinson demonstrated that clearly on Wednesday. He was thoroughly dominated on one rep, landing flat on his back, but he used it as positive fuel and came back to dominate the next two reps in a row. The player who has impressed us most in terms of where he is now relative to where he was in the spring in these drills is James Brooks. We have to be honest, there was a little bit of concern about his upright play in the spring and Brooks was beginning to remind us of Tranell Morant, an all-world physical specimen who marginalized himself with his posture at the position. But ASU fans can be excited to hear that Brooks is playing with much better pad level this year and his technique has come a long way as well. He's also lost 10-15 pounds in the off-season and is currently in the 265-270 pound range.
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