April 20, 2009
(8:25 a.m.): Before UC entered the final week of spring practice, the coaching staff wanted to see where the defense stood – whether it was ready to break camp on a positive note heading into summer workouts. So, BK worked the defensive players hard during Saturday’s mini-scrimmage at Nippert Stadium.
The results pleased him.
“I told our guys that today was moving day,” BK said Saturday. “We needed to find out some guys, they needed to be put in some situations so they have a better understanding. We only get 15 days (of spring practice). There has to be a sense of urgency in everything we do. Putting together the 2009 team, they only give you 15 days. That’s it. Then you have to go right into camp and prepare for Rutgers. Spring ball has a lot of value relative to player evaluations.”
“As a whole, we’ve played really aggressive defensively. That’s what we’re looking for. We lost 10 starters on defense, and everybody is concerned about the defense. Today, we’re starting to move in the right direction in getting that unit to play the same kind of defense we’ve been accustomed to the couple years.”
That losing-10-starters-on-defense will be an interesting topic of conversation this season. I think I’ve talked about this before on the blog, but I brought it up again with BK on Saturday. Yes, UC lost 10 senior starters from last year’s squad. But they weren’t four-year starter types either.
Guys like Connor Barwin, Lamonte Nelms, Torry Cornett and Brandon Underwood weren’t exactly superstar defensive players before the 2008 season. They adjusted to their new roles as senior starters, though, and all four became very good players for the Bearcats. But there’s no reason players like Brad Jones, Marcus Waugh and Ricardo Matthews can’t do the same this season.
“I wasn’t (worried) coming in,” BK said. “The biggest thing for me was trying to find out who those guys were and who were the guys that could fit in the pieces of the new defensive scheme we have.”
Here’s who I saw working with the first team during Saturday’s scrimmage (in no particular order).
Offense: Tony Pike, Adrien Robinson, Chris Jurek, Alex Hoffman, Jeff Linkenbach, Jason Kelce, Ben Guidugli, D.J. Woods, Armon Binns, C.J. Cobb (and that’s 10. I guess I missed somebody – like a running back. Jacob Ramsey, Isaiah Pead and Darrin Williams all were playing).
Defense: Marcus Barnett, Robby Armstrong, Brad Jones, Aaron Webster, Marcus Waugh, Derek Wolfe, John Hughes, Curtis Young, Alex Daniels, Obadiah Cheatham (and I’m missing somebody again. Man, I’m not good at writing down numbers).
We talked a little bit about Vidal Hazelton and the possibility of him receiving an NCAA waiver to forget the sit-out transfer season and let him play immediately. BK said UC submitted the waiver last Wednesday, and it might be a couple weeks before the school hears back. “We’ve got support from Pete Carroll,” BK said, “who wrote a very favorable letter on his behalf.”
Remember at one point, though, the Ben Mauk decision would be ready “in a couple weeks.” And that stretched out eight months. And remember, Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe wrote a letter on behalf of Mauk. Didn’t help much.
If Hazelton is eligible, he and D.J. Woods will battle for the starting spot at the Z receiver position.
Good times happening over at Twitter. On Saturday, had a couple semi-breaking pieces of news (Vidal Hazelton and Marcus Barnett) that you couldn’t find on the Katzonthecats blog (until two days afterward; man, it feels like I’m working at the Cincinnati Post again). They were Twitter exclusives. You really should be following me right here.