With the promise of a scrimmage in Autzen, a large crowd was drawn to the Autzen quarter this afternoon. After canceling (today I learned that 'canceling' is evidently spelled with one l, who knew?) the scrimmage and disappointing the few hundred who came out for late lunches on Tuesday, the team settled in for another pretty average practice. This one was focused on special teams walkthroughs (real excitement right there) and partial contact drills with full-contact team offense periods. Red zone offense was also gone over quite a bit today.
On to the notes...
- Not sure why, but Bennett and Hawkins both were without red jerseys for the first time today and were welcome to be tackled in 11-on-11 today. Dustin Haines, walk-on quarterback, also wore a white jersey like the rest of the offense and actually appeared to be moved to slot at least for this practice. Make of that what you will.
- Darron Thomas had an excellent practice. It might have been the most complete practice I've seen from him. It was a windy day, so the only passes he threw that appeared to be lackluster were greatly affected by the wind (the same with Costa's.) However, what Thomas showed today for the first time was true running ability. He did a lot less (though still a little bit of) backing out of the pocket to scramble as opposed to running through the protection gaps. When he would choose a gap, he looked fast. Thomas has consistently looked much faster on scrambles than zone reads, which lead me to hypothesize today that his top-gear speed is actually quite good, while his acceleration may be lacking. He has long legs and a velociraptor's gait. He also did a great job of keeping his head up while scrambling. He never gave up on the passing part of the play, and when he did decide to tuck it he got to the sideline in a hurry. For someone guilty of giving Thomas little praise so far, I'm starting to realize that Thomas really does have a shot to be the starter, especially after turning in a performance like he did today.
- Nate Costa looked consistent as ever. He knows how to make decisions. He knows how to take that under route with one of our fast receivers. His touch passes over the middle are great; very accurate and catchable. Even showed some speed on scrambles out of the pocket during 11-on-11 red zone, with one touchdown on a scramble from about 15-yards out.
- Thomas took what seemed to be the majority of first-team snaps today. I'd have to see the coaches' numbers on it, but if I had to guess, he took 2/3 of the snaps today with the first team. Not sure if this was planned, but it's one thing that makes me think Thomas is really getting in the coaches' good graces.