Slowly, yes slowly, it seems some of the team's problems are fading.
The offensive line is looking less like a booth of turnstiles. The defensive line finally appears to be deeper than a puddle. The quarterbacks and wide receivers are playing better.
We'll start with the offensive line, where protecting against six-man blitzes still is a problem, but at least the line has given the quarterback time to throw under normal defensive schemes. J.D. Brookhart said young players, such as Mike Ward, Corey Woods and Zach Anderson, are progressing nicely. Watching Anderson, a tackle who came to campus highly touted but has not earned much playing time, it is apparent he has an edge to him. The line still needs to communicate better, Brookhart said. Progress should continue as the linemen become better acquainted with the new protection schemes the coaching staff implemented.
The defensive line is looking better and probably won't be a liability in 2007. In fact, it probably will be a strength in the seasons thereafter. True freshman defensive end Almondo Sewell will play this season. There is little chance the coaches will redshirt him. More than likely, at least one or two of the other true freshmen also will play. Just remember, in the 3-3-5, the defensive linemen are not heroes. They are hole fillers. A lack of sacks from them is to be expected. The main pass rushers will be linebackers Brion Stokes and Doug Williams.
Most impressive is the efficiency by the quarterbacks and receivers (whenever the passer has been granted time to throw). Matt Rodgers sat out today, and might miss an additional practice or two, with a sore right arm from throwing too much. Chris Jacquemain and Carlton Jackson both played well today. Both need to get rid of the ball sooner and know when it's best to just heave it out of bounds. For the most part, they found open receivers who are running better routes. Alphonso Owen particularly looks like a player who can help the Zips move the chains.