14.Apr.2012 Silver’s Spring Report (#2)
I spent much of today's practice focusing on the offensive line.
For the first 30 minutes, I watched Kyle DeVan coach up the offensive linemen. DeVan was working on the "punch" technique with one lineman at a time, as well as talking with the group about blocking angles. (At one point, DeVan called over loudly to another assistant, and joked "has anyone taught these guys any geometry?") During breaks, DeVan was also telling the linemen NFL war stories (one of them started with, "You think Coach Cav is bad?").
In some ways, watching DeVan coach the o-line reminded me of watching Rod Perry coach the defensive backs during last Saturday's practice. The offensive linemen were clearly treating DeVan — a former starting guard with the Indianapolis Colts — with respect, and listening closely to what he was saying. Of course, unlike Rod Perry, DeVan is only in his late 20's, and graduated from OSU just a few years ago. DeVan seems to relate well to the guys, and to have a good sense of humor and a light touch — a welcome counterpoint to Coach Cav's screaming (which really can get old). I think DeVan is going to add value this year and is going to help make OSU's offensive line better. I think DeVan will be especially effective with the talented group of o-line recruits that arrive this Fall.
At this morning's practice, Isaac Seumalo (wearing sweats) was one of the guys listening closely to Kyle DeVan. Seumalo was not participating in practice — he was just an observer. But he seemed to be taking it seriously. When the offensive line broke up into two groups, one with Coach Cav, and the other with Kyle DeVan, Isaac chose to go with DeVan's group (perhaps because Isaac has already heard a lot from Cav, and was interested to hear whether Kyle DeVan had something new/different to say — although that's pure speculation on my part). Isaac attended the whole, long Saturday practice, hanging out with the offensive linemen and the coaches, and soaking up information.
I spent a fair amount of time today watching the two centers, Roman Sapolu and Jake Welch. I think each of them has talent. Jake Welch is about 30-40 pounds heavier than Sapolu — Welch has a broader frame, and looks stronger than Sapolu. During one-on-one blocking drills, Welch had some impressive moments, where he overwhelmed his opponents with his size and strength. However, Sapolu had some good moments, too. Sapolu does it with technique and determination rather than sheer size and strength, but looks like Sapolu can be effective, especially as a pass blocker.
Trevor Romaine has improved since last season. He hit every kick solidly today (and I think he made them all, although I’m not 100% sure because I didn’t have a great viewing angle). TR also looks more confident out there. I think he’s going to have a good season for OSU.
Rod Perry seems to have Jordan Poyer be the lead off guy in each drill. Perry has Poyer set the example for how to do each drill, praises Poyer’s technique, and then has the other guys follow Poyer’s lead. Speculation on my part, but I suspect Perry is doing this intentionally, to establish Poyer as the official leader of the group (both to get the most out of Poyer, and also to inspire the other guys to rise to Poyer’s level).
Coach Perry is spending quite a bit of time with the cornerbacks working on techniques for stripping balls from receivers, and for blocking balls before they reach receivers. During the scrimmages today, the CBs were using these techniques to good effect. Coach Perry also spent a fair amount of time coaching up the CB’s on proper tackling technique. I continue to be cautiously optimistic that we really are going to see improved play from the defensive backs this coming season as a result of Perry’s coaching.
I already mentioned the one-on-one blocking drills where Riley participated. Here are some more details from that drill. The first point to emphasize — again — is the super-competitive nature of this drill. This was man-vs-man blocking, with all the players and coaches (including head coach Mike Riley) in a tight circle, watching. The guys were going at it hard, as you’d expect. During this whole drill, Isaac Seumalo was standing close to Riley, while Riley (and Cav) ran the drill. Cav spent much of the drill yelling at various offensive linemen to “get your f…ing elbows in” while blocking.
In this drill, Mike Philipp generally looked good, and won most of his matchups. However, when MP went up against Dylan Wynn, DW got under MP’s pad and drove MP backwards. (Note: in this and other drills, DW continues to impress. DW seems stronger than last year, and just as quick, if not quicker. If he stays healthy, DW should be a force this coming season — even more so than last season.) Jake Welch was perhaps the most effective blocker in these one-on-one drills — Welch just seemed to overpower most of his opponents. Welch is only a RS Freshman — seems he has a big upside.