Army’s first 2013 preseason practice began around 7:20 a.m. and lasted until 10 a.m.
About 15 minutes in, co-defensive coordinator Payam Saadat demonstrated proper technique on tackles near the sidelines and stressed avoiding late hits as the entire team watched.
Defensive line coach John Mumford was adamant when a player cruised through an agility drill. “Nothing is casual about this,” Mumford said.
Pretty much a walkthrough practice with some pre-snap reps in the end.
Injury report: Sophomore cornerback Marques Avery, who started five games last season, and junior free safeties Stephen Ricciardi and Gino DeBartolo didn’t participate in practice. DeBartolo appeared to be favoring his right ankle. Sophomore center Colin Joy also didn’t practice.
Position change: Sophomore Matt Giachinta, the third-string fullback on preseason depth chart, has been switched to middle linebacker. Giachinta was running with the second-team defense during pre-snap drills. Coach Rich Ellerson said Giachinta, sophomore Alex Meier, who started at rover last year, and Marcus Poling, a converted running back, are getting a look at middle linebacker. Ellerson said he will decide in about three to four days whether Giachinta, Meier and Poling will stay in the middle or return to their previous positions.
Here’s what coach Ellerson had to say about evaluating the talent at middle linebacker: “Giachinta, Poling and Alex (Meier) are all guys who have taken reps and traveled at another position. It’s good that they have the right physical profile for the position. The question is do they have the instincts…It doesn’t take a long time to figure out. You have to resist the urge to fall in love with the ideal physical profile (if) he doesn’t see the game that way. It doesn’t mean he can’t play football. It’s a little bit of a ouija board act. But if you got somebody that can really see it, it doesn’t take long.”
Freshman watch: Plebe cornerbacks Josh Jenkins and Jalen Noble lined up as second-team cornerbacks. Cornerback Gervon Simon and Jared Vallner and linebacker Eddy Ruzga were on the third team. Wide receivers Xavier Moss and Edgar Poe were grouped with a predominantly freshman unit, which was not among “the varsity.”
Here’s how the top three defensive units lined up during pre-snap drills:
First group or team: LE Bobby Kough, NT T.J. Atimalala, RE Joe Drummond, Quick Dalton Mendenhall, WHIP James Kelly; MLB Alex Meier; Rover Thomas Holloway, CB Chris Carnegie, CB Lamar Johnson-Harris, FS Geoff Bacon, SS Hayden Pierce (who was wearing a blue limited jersey).
Second group or team: LE Clayton Keller, NT Richard Glover, RE Ryan Alexander, Quick Holt Zalneraitis, WHIP Jarrett Mackey, MLB Matt Giachinta, Rover Justin Trimble, CB Josh Jenkins; CB Jalen Noble; SS Reggie Nesbit, *FS Geoff Bacon (Believe Bacon stayed on with the second team in place of Stephen Ricciardi, who didn’t practice due to injury).
Third group or team: LE Jacob Owens, NT Shane Finnane, RE Kyle Maxwell, QUICK Eddy Ruzga WHIP Derek Sanchez, MLB Marcus Poling, Rover Shaquille Tolbert; CB Gervon Simon, CB Jared Vallner, SS Luke Proulx, FS Tyler Dickson.
How how the offense lined up in walkthroughs:
The first-team offense was what coach Ellerson likes to call the team’s 1 1/2. The “starters” were QB A.J. Schurr, FB Larry Dixon, RB Raymond Maples; RB Terry Baggett; WR Chevaughn Lawrence; WR Ejay Tucker; LT Nick Bennett; LG Steve Shumaker; C Ryan Powis; RG Matt Hugenberg; RT Momo Kime. Working in with the first team were: QB Angel Santiago, RB Trenton Turrentine; RB Stephen Fraser; FB Hayden Tippett; WR Patrick Laird; WR Anthony Stephens; RT Justin Gilbert; C Todd McDonald; LG John Szott; LT Zach Reichert.
The next group was: QB Kelvin White; FB Jay Tully; RB Tony Giovannelli; RB Julian Crockett; WR Scott Williams; WR Justin Newman; LT Jake Peterson; LG Chris Smythe; C Ryan Gibeley; RG Richard Rainey; RT Dan Whitaker. Working in with the group were FB Aaron Kemper (freshman); WR Ross McDonald; WR DeAndre Bell; WR Zach Williams; WR Mike Parros; WR Andrew Ellerson; C Corey Hobbs.
It will be interesting to see how quarterback plays out with a healthy Kelvin White in the mix. White, a sophomore, was injured during Army’s first spring scrimmage and missed the rest of camp. Listed at 6-3 and 215 pounds, White brings a different dimension to the position. He showcased his strong arm in a few passing drills. Sophomore A.J. Schurr is Army’s No. 1 quarterback. White could make a run at the No. 2 spot currently held by junior Angel Santiago.
Saw senior tackle Momo Kime talking some technique and schemes with freshman offensive lineman Alex Cauley at the end of the practice. A good sign that the seniors are serious about being the voice of the team.
Pass-rushing specialist Colin Linkul worked for a good 10 minutes one-on-one with special teams coach Luke Thompson on getting through the line and blocking kicks.
Three punters worked with Thompson on the side during practice. Sophomore Alex Tardieu is the top punter in camp. Tardieu, who hasn’t attempted a punt, is also the lone returning punter. Freshman Ralph Freibert played at Army Prep last year. Senior Tim Meier is an intriguing player in camp. Meier was a quarterback on Army’s sprint football from 2009-11. He averaged 32.9 yards on seven punts as a junior in 2011.
Last but not last, it wouldn’t be an Army preseason practice without senior wide receiver Scott Williams making a play. Williams jumped into the air and caught a pass with one hand during drills.
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