In today's open practice not much different from other practices happened today It didn't seem like they were as open in the scrimmages with mostly just running plays and short passes to the flats etc. A not interested bystander/student would probably be unimpressed with the practice as far as excitement goes. It does look, however, like Valdez Showers and Quinton Dunbar could be getting reps as kickoff returners. Dunbar showed off some speed I haven't really seen out of him before, and Showers is a very shifty back with pretty great top end speed as well.
The defense might have had an influence on the offense's conservative passes on passing downs. The pass rush was relentless taking almost no time to get to Jeff Driskel who would promptly have to get the ball out quickly. Latroy Pittman was taking reps with Max Staver and walk-ons; he looked a bit deflated morale-wise. Staver wasn't wearing a red QB jersey either, which I thought mildly interesting, with only Skyler Mornhinweg, Tyler Murphy and Driskel donning the red. Mornhinweg looked decent despite his noticeable lack of arm strength when hitting on deeper out routes and curls. Murphy looked similar in the same game manager kind of way. Murphy seems to be able to handle the offense a little better and adds a threat of running, especially in a traditional option set up which they ran more of than the other practices i watched. Murphy has great instincts, like Driskel, when it comes to the option game. It did seem like a difficult environment for them to be rehearsing any passing plays, at times going up against a front of Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler on the edges, Dominique Easley and Leon Orr in the middle, and Ronald Powell outside at Sam/buck opposite Neiron Ball with Antonio Morrison in the middle.
It's good to see Ronald Powell back on the field, still I can't keep saying enough about it. He's a definite leader out there. A one point I watched him coaching up Kent Taylor on how to be more aggressive with his blocking on the edge in a drill of linemen, TE's and outside LB's. He's just been bouncing around the field, telling people what they need to do after they get chewed out by coaches.
One thing I noticed about Driskel which is consistent with what I've seen in the practices leading up to this one is a drastically improved ability to make tough throws along the sideline. That is the one part of the field that seemed to get open most in the scrimmages and he was putting the ball right where it needed to be, sometimes accompanies with a drop unfortunately. He's developed a strong connection on the field with Dunbar, who is emerging as one of his favorite targets.
The more I watch of Gideon Ajagbe, the less I worry about depth at FB behind Joyer. However, behind him, no one else has really emerged. He has shown a modest ability to catch out of the backfield. Although I haven't gotten to see too much of his pass-pro and run blocking, he's a huge player who reminds me of a bit bigger, slightly less athletic Omarius Hines physically.
Mark Herndon continues to look like he belongs in the group of RB's, skill wise. He seems to surpass them in terms of effort at many times, obviously coming from being a walk-on and earning a scholarship. I think he could be extremely valuable to the RB corp with a decent pass-catching ability out of the backfield,and he might allow for one of the other RB's out of Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane to redshirt, especially with Showers receiving quality first team reps and the imminent return of Matt Jones (who was out in the stadium partaking in conditioning with a helmet and shorts, initiating the NCAA's acclimation process).