Things are, albeit slowly, started to come together. A couple of the players have talked about how a good portion of the playbook was thrown at them all at one time, but it's now starting to slow down. Guys can finally play football without thinking too much, though it's just the first baby step. The defense is still far ahead of the offense, but that's to be expected. New head coach Paul Haynes still talks about becoming a "championship team," how a changing of the culture still needs to take place in the program. Tomorrow will be the kicking scrimmage, a big day for Anthony Melchiori, who is already one of the better punters around but will also be handling the field-goal duties. Haynes says he looks more at the guys sprinting down field on punts and kickoffs, and who taps out first.
Wollet's interceptions continue
If you had Luke Wollet in your spring football fantasy league, you're winning. Wollet is making it really tough on quarterbacks David Fisher and Colin Reardon. He intercepted passes from both during practice Friday morning, and in six practices, he's at least in double digits for interceptions in the spring. On Wednesday, the play of the day was Wollet getting run over by Trayion Durham. When asked about it, Haynes was actually more impressed that Wollet took the hit and still got Durham on the ground, albeit a few yards upfield. Almost all of Wollet's INTs have come from him playing a "center field" role and jumping in front of receivers. He's patrolled the middle of the field well and is making a pass anywhere between the hashmarks a dangerous attempt.
Strong practice from Meray
Durham and Dri Archer are certainly going to get the Lion's share of the carries, and with good reason, but just about every running back who's taken a handoff this spring has looked pretty strong. Last week, Tristin Boykin had a couple of nice runs. On Friday, junior Anthony Meray perhaps had the best practice of anyone on the offensive side of the ball. Working in an inside-run drill from inside the red zone, Meray scored three straight "touchdowns" in a couple of different ways. The first came when he juked Danny Gress, who had bullrushed his way into the backfield, and easily waltzed into the outside. On the second attempt, Meray ran behind the right tackle but had no room to operate and sprinted around the other way for a score. On the third, he showed nice patience, staying behind his lead blockers and then exploding through the hole once it opened. Meray is a good bet to be the No. 3 running back.
Later, in a third-down drill, Meray took a delayed handoff to the outside but was tripped up by Jordan Italiano on a nice tackle in the open field. On the next play, Meray ran the same play, this time shaking free of Dylan Farrington.
If you remember Evan Shimensky, the punitive quarterback from hometown Kent Roosevelt High School who transitioned to wide receiver last season, he's still here and has shown a great deal of improvement. Shimensky had a couple of nice catches, including one on a quick slant. Fisher's throw was almost intercepted. Shimensky shielded the cornerback with his body, hauled in the pass, spun around and ran downfield for a 25-yard gain. He'll still have to fight to rise up the depth chart, but he looks like he's worlds ahead of where he was six months ago.
Melchiori coming along
Melchiori made both field goal attempts on Friday, each from about 30 yards. The second one, though, was a little different. As the last play of practice, it was set up as a pressure situation. Haynes had the entire team crowd around Melchiori, to within a couple yards, and scream and jump around. Melchiori drilled the 33-yard try.
Haynes wasn't directly hinting at anything, but he did say earlier this week that someone could come along in the summer and compete to be the field goal kicker in the fall. He doesn't want to kill Melchiori's leg, and the team has a couple of scholarships to work with.