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Practice Notes & Observations for 8/3
It was a fitting setting for the first day of fall camp. FAU took the practice fields Saturday morning with a gloomy sky lingering above.
Head coach Carl Pelini (photo) addressed the media with confidence following the two-hour practice session and assured that he likes the position his team is in.
"We look fast. We looked decisive. We're a much faster team than we were a year ago, it's obvious just after day one," Pelini said.
The team was dressed in just helmets and shorts, but that didn't limit the objective of the opening practice. With a sizable group of newcomers going through their first practice, the goal was to get everyone adjusted to the tempo of the future sessions. Over summer a group of seniors had led team workouts, and according to Pelini, that was beneficial on Saturday.
"I'm very pleased with the older guys," Pelini said. "The older kids were running what you would call practices in the summer and working on schemes and going through the drills we're now doing. So we look a little bit ahead of where we were last year."
One of veterans who organized the charge is center Mustfa Johnson. The senior lineman has developed the mentality that while the offseason gains have been favorable, there is still a long way to go.
"You have to remember, we only won three games last season, so we can’t pat ourselves on the back," Johnson said.
Defensive tackle Trevon Coley agreed with Johnson, citing fall camp as a clean slate.
“Last year is last year, I leave that in the past. This is a new year and anything can happen,” Coley said.
Pelini was pleased with the teams effort, but is expecting to see more in day two when the players should be further adjusted to camp.
He said it: "We have got more depth now. You better preform or you're going to get passed up. It was different than a year ago when I felt we were really top heavy and didn't have as much competition as we do now." - Carl Pelini on the two-deep.
Observations: I was granted just a few minutes of access to practice, and here is what I saw…
- Melvin German was the only quarterback taking snaps with the first-team offense. He had a pass tipped in the secondary which almost resulted in an interception. German was utilized in a lot of zone-reads, which makes sense for a player with his abilities.
- Jonathan Wallace and Tony Moore split time at running back with the first-team. Pelini mentioned after practice that it was evident for the players who had a strong spring to translate that success into fall camp. Moore fits that billing.
- You can pencil in Quez Johnson as the number two quarterback, but it was freshman Greg Hankerson who ran the third team offense. This should come as a surprise, because that would place Hankerson ahead of junior Stephen Curtis on the depth chart. The freshman was shifty and looked like he had trimmed some weight.
- The team spent a full period working on punt returns, and a handful of players shagged balls. Lucky Whitehead, Robert Lohens, Martese Jackson and Cre'von LeBlanc all rotated as the deep man.
- One freshman who I was physically impressed with was defensive end Trey Hendrickson. It appears that he benefited from the daily weight training program over the six-week summer semester.
- Freshman corners Marcus Clark and Ronnie Scott saw time with the third team defense. They round out a select group of newcomers that got repetitions during team drills.
- The offensive line was in a constant flux when I was watching as coaches were rotating a lot of players. That should be expected for the first couple practices, but the unit needs to gel quickly.
- New defensive line coach Matt Edwards, who joined the team in December, had the loudest voice on the field. He was constantly in the face of players explaining missed assignments.
- Wide receiver Derrick Moise changed his number from 89 to 4. It took me about five minutes to get this straightened out.
- Graham Wilbert, who was arrested for a DUI last month, was at practice assisting with the coaches. It's not clear what his current role with the team is.
- Freshman tight end Dustin Bowens wasn't dressed. He was the only player not participating.