Georgia State's football team put on shoulder pads for the the first time in four months today and with the pads came a increased level of physicality. Coach Curry encouraged the increase in intensity, but stressed that his players needed to control it. Here are some observations from day three of fall camp.
- I focused more on the Offensive and Defensive lines rather than the skill positions today. Some guys that stood out to me during one on one drills were Defensive Tackle David Huey, Left Guard Tim Wynn, and Center Mark Ruskell.
- Huey had a great day of practice today. He performed very well in one on one drills and was consistently in the backfield during team drills, recording a couple sacks.
- Wynn is one of the lineman that have been singled out as being very athletic for his size and that was on full display today. When he pulls out and gets to the second level he blocks really well in space and gives the Running Backs opportunities to break a long play.
- Ruskell appears to have all the tools to be a successful player. He held his own against some much bigger and stronger defensive lineman and has been very crisp with his snaps.
- The Defensive Line definitely won during the team drills today. Delic, Huey, Kelly, and Agnew all were able to get consistent pressure and disrupt plays in the back field.
- Quarterback Ben McLane had some rocket throws today. On the first play of team blitz drills he hit Danny Williams over the middle with a rope, but immediately after making the catch Williams got blown up by a safety (didn't catch who it was). While the team did have shoulder pads on, they didn't have much other protection, so fellow Wide Receiver Jordan Giles took exception to the hit and a small scuffle broke out.
- Quarterback Kelton Hil also had a few big plays, but most came with his feet. He definitely still needs to improve on his accuracy.
- New transfer QB Ronnie Bell had a couple of nice throws, but it is clear he doesn't quite look comfortable out there yet. Not a surprise since it was only his third organized practice. He also needs to improve on his accuracy as he continues to get a better grasp on the offense.
- - The reps for the quarterbacks remained 5 for McLane, 3 for Hill, and 2 for Bell.
- The offense showed a little more today. Without getting into much detail, it seemed as though there will be a increased emphasis on getting the ball to the skill position players more quickly. Junior wide receivers Darren McCray and Albert Wilson had some good plays out of the backfield as well as true freshman Avery Sweeting.
- It was a rough day for special teams. Punter Matt Hubbard was not on his game and punted several balls out of bounds.
- The punt returners today were Albert Wilson, Demarius Matthews, Avery Sweeting, and Parris Lee.
- Practice ended with Coach Curry calling for a drill that gave the offense the ball at their own one yard line and gave them the goal of getting a first down in three plays. The defense's task was obviously to keep them from doing so and therefore forcing punt deep in the opponents territory. On the very first play of the drill, Ben McLane threw a majestic ball that went 45 yards in the air and came down to a streaking Albert Wilson in perfect stride. Wilson took it the remaining 54 yards on his own for a 99 yard touchdown pass. Demarius Matthews was beat on the play and made a valiant attempt to bat the ball away, but the ball was just thrown too well.
- Spoke with Coach Curry after practice and he said he thought the effort and intensity level was good, but that it could be better. He singled out special teams as a unit that needed to show significant improvement.
- Also got to speak with strength coach Ben Pollard. He had some great stuff to share, so here are his full quotes:
On the results he is seeing on the field from the offseason workouts:
"We are definitely stronger. I thought when we started this winter that this team needed to gain a little weight. Which when you look at where we were in April to where we are now we have managed to do that. I wanted half a ton, which would have been 10 pounds per man, but we didn't quite get there. But the overall strength level is much better."
On some of the more intangible results from the offseason:
"I am happier about participation levels. So much of college football is chemistry and so much of that is created during the summer. So that is the part I am probably the happiest about and an area of where we are getting where we need to be."
On the athleticism of the offensive line:
"I really am pleased with that part. Particularly the offensive line. I don't want to be critical of last year's starters, but they just had a different style. That group runs very well as a group and they have really bonded as a group as well."
On leadership on the team:
"I definitely have seen some leaders step up on this team. Jordan Giles is a leader. Dan Williams has taken a lot on. Kail Singleton, Jamal Ransby, Nate Anthony, Demarius Matthews, those guys are all leaders and you can trust them. And there is more of those guys than there has been before. Our first meeting this week I asked all the guys that were here for every workout over the summer to stand, and there was absolutely no comparison to the number from last year. It's good that we are getting to the point when it's an exception for a player to not be at a workout. But it has to continue to get better, and the accountability has to come from them. We are real close."
On who is someone that has put in a lot of work in the weight room but hasn't really put it together on the field yet:
"Well, we are so young in certain areas, but Davis Knowles is a guy who put on 20 pounds just from the Spring. Kail Singleton put on 20 pounds and looks like he is playing faster. David Huey put on over 20 pounds. John Kelly put on 20 pounds since the end of April. And those are all young guys that are still developing and progressing. And it makes them feel good too because it makes them feel like we are starting to achieve things as a team."
Last spring Coach Pollard told me that in his experience he generally knows how the team is going to perform in the fall by the end of the summer. So I asked him if he would share his thoughts on that and if he had any inclinations:
"I definitely think we have a better environment and a lot more comraderie. We have a much different feel to the team now. Remember we had a lot of seniors on the team last year that had transferred from others schools, and i'm not knocking them, but you didn't have the consistency now of guys stepping up to be leaders. You have 28 guys on this team now that have been here four years. That is what's going to be the strength of this team. It takes time to build that, but again, we're close."