February 22, 2011

GBK's Inside the Huddle: Spring Practice Day 4

INSIDE THE HUDDLE:

The Black Knights continue to move through their spring regiment, as the players look to make their mark and the staff's focus remain on getting the right pieces in the right spots.

Although the team is in full pads, the physicality of the practices is still contained, but yet enough to get some of the sparks flying.

GoBlackKnights.com takes a look inside spring practice, as the competition for starting roles and position on the depth chart continues to heat up.

Linebackers

With the Mike and Rover and even the Sam to some extent, all three are almost identical in their responsibilities.

Their footwork is the same when they are in pass coverage - they have the same techniques. Hence, they are being group together in reps for practice and coaching purposes. All three need to know how to play in the box because any 2 of the 3 will be there as a linebacker. In the Black Knights' defense, there really is not much difference in size between the Sam and Rover and even ideally the Mike as well … although the Mike may have a 5-15 pounds difference at times.

While the position name may remain the same, look for Steve Erzinger to be the man in the middle …. at least for now.

Because of the new personnel and schemes, the 6-foot-2, 221 pound captain seems to be the best suited for the inside role. But with such young team, the staff is experimenting and gazing for the right fit across the board.

It doesn't really matter what you call Erzinger, Mike, Sam or Rover. The Mike and Rover end up having very similar responsibilities and #9 is the guy you will see in the middle of the field, although he will still be called the Rover.

To date, freshmen Reggie Nesbit and Justin Trimble are running neck and neck, where you will see them in the "Mike" playing the weakside of the defense.

Defensive Backs

Sneaking up in the mix at corner this spring is Waverly Washington, who is having a very solid spring thus far. The 5-foot-10, 190 sophomore appears more confident and decisive with his movement and is standing out amongst all the corners. Currently he is running behind Josh Jackson at the field corner, but there is surely competition between the two.

At the boundary corner, Richard King and Antuan Aaron are currently manning the one and two.

At the Sam (strong safety) there are hosts of players trying to make their mark.

As part of the youth movement, you have freshman Lyle Beloney in the hunt, along with fellow plebe, J.R. Woodward.


Rounding out the three guys who have been getting the most reps right now is walk-on Anthony Daniels, who has turned some heads and caught the eyes of the coaching staff.

Daniel was at the prep school last season where he played lacrosse. The 5-foot-11, 200 pound newbie could be the surprise of the spring training camp.

At free safety, Thomas Holloway and Tyler Dickson have both been playing well. Holloway is also another walk-on, who has been a pleasant surprise. He is a smart ball player, he knows how to play football and he will come up and hit you.

Holloway is not the fastest guy although he may be faster than former starter Donovan Travis. However, the one thing that Travis brought every single game was having a great instinct for the ball. Thus, Holloway will need to work on the reads.

Having Dickson return after a brief bout with freshman West Pointvitis he is back in the mix and a welcome addition. He is starting to show what the staff expected of him coming out of the prep school.

Both players are getting equal reps, especially after Ty Shrader went down Saturday with a slight hamstring injury.

Defensive Line

Upfront and as practice continues to move forward, Jarrett Mackey has separated himself from everyone else and seems to be a lock at the quick defensive end spot.

The other end spot is starting to shape out as Quentin Kantaris and Clayton Keller appear to be getting the bulk of the reps opposite Mackey at the offset defensive end spot.

Notables:

A.J. Mackey who is looking to take hold of one of the inside positions up front has been held out due his surgically repaired hand still going through the healing process.

Freshman Matt Luetjen is still running behind Erzinger. However, he had some slight soreness in his knee and sat out yesterday's practice.

Chad Littlejohn seems to have found a home as he has joined the Whip - Bandit line of players and in that mix right now.


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