"If our corners keep progressing
they can be as good as anyone in the country," secondary coach Ken Greene
The action got started with a big
ooh and ahh from those who saw Hamza Abdullah's KO of running back
Jermaine Green early on in practice. Green apparently was not
expecting to get hit that hard as he got up, pleasantly shocked and said "I
didn't know he was going to hit me that hard." Green was not hurt on the
Yes, it seems any holding back Coach
Bill Doba had hoped for was not going to happen Monday night. Great hits
and jaw-dropping plays were the only features being shown.
Offensive line coach George
Yarno continued to perfect his offensive line brutes. Yarno has been working
with the group to make them faster and more aggressive. Center Mike
Shelford has been one to watch this season, he's not the most beastly
specimen but coaches say he works hard and is smart. This is what has earned him
a starting position (thus far) ahead of scholarship players like Nick
Milhauser and Keola Loo.
"I'm just happy to be in my
position," Shelford said. "Even if a scholarship never came this year I'd still
fact that Yarno barks at players like a German shepherd, Shelford, along with
the rest of the offensive line, continues to respond positively to him.
"Everybody loves him," Shelford said
with a big smile. "He'll pick you up when you're doing bad and he'll get you
motivated if you're feeling lazy."
only gets tougher having to go against one of the Pac-10's top defenses.
"Tai Tupai is a big guy,"
said Shelford of the 6-5, 320 pound right tackle. "You just hope to keep him on
the line. You don't plan to push him back very much. We've got a great defense
though, we should have a great offense as well but it will make it even more fun
when teams are only scoring 14 points a game on us."
It was that defense that promulgated
the intense battle between the offense and defense. Kegel seemed to rebound
nicely from any blitzes the defense threw at him. After having a pass blocked by
Will Derting, Kegel hit Mr. Reliable, tight end Troy Bienemann,
for some short yardage. The
big target pulled in a handful of receptions.
On another play Kegel was
bull-rushed by Odell Howard, but he dropped a pass off to Cody
Boyd. The defensive line clogged up running backs Jonathan Smith and
Kevin McCall, while safety Virgil Williams put a big-time licking
on receiver Jevon Miller.
Another sure-hands man has been
Scott Lunde. Lunde reeled in at least four passes, and ran for about 15
yards on a reverse. Chris Hurd and Kegel both had swift passes to Moore,
who was back in full pads after recovering from a hamstring injury.
But stealing the show from the
offense and even their own defensive line was the new dynamic duo of Paymah and
David. The duo gave quarterback Kegel and wide receivers Moore and Devard
Darling fits all day long. Several times Kegel threw perfect passes that
were broken up or intercepted by Paymah or David.
On one play, receiver Marty
Martin tried his luck with Paymah only to run into a concrete wall. Paymah
just stepped right in front of Martin as the pass sailed right over their heads.
Another time, David and Darling were going at it, but David's defense forced a
small error by Kegel to look big, as he overthrew a pass while trying to avoid
the defense. Paymah had his way with Darling as well, locking him up on a
perfect lob pass from Kegel. Point: Kegel and any other quarterbacks facing the
duo had little room for error.
"J.D. put on about 20 pounds this
off-season," Greene said. "I think it's given him a lot more confidence. He's
out there playing like he's 6-2, 200 pounds."
Many skeptics have wondered how the
Cougars will respond to the loss of Marcus Trufant, well Greene had an
answer for that and it started with a Karl and ended with a Paymah.
"He is absolutely the whole
package," Greene said. "He's got all the same characteristics of Trufant, he
just needs to polish his game up and he should go a long way with it."
As for skepticism about the unit's
depth, Greene has been pleased with both Alex Teems and Don
Turner. Greene said he has liked the improvement of Turner after a broken
arm in the spring and that he expects Teems to be a "viable factor this year."
With the consistency of Turner and Teems, Greene has had few chances to gauge
the ability of Omowale "Wally" Dada.
"We are really pleased with the four guys we have in that rotation so it's hard for him to break in there," Greene said. "But Wally is a physical kid with good speed. It's hard to evaluate him since it is so early but so far we've been pleased."
• Seen limping his way out of
practice was wide receiver Chris Jordan. Jordan came out of the team's
scrimmage early Monday limping a bit. At night he still was limping. The injury
did not look serious. He was stretched out by a trainer and walked off the field
begins at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
• Lewiston High senior offensive
lineman Brent Russum was in attendance for the Monday night practice.
Russum has received attention from most of the Northwest Pac-10 schools and been
offered by Oregon State. The Bengals finished second at state last season.
• Receiver Lunde did not take his
little spar with Paymah to heart. After practice he shook secondary coach
Greene's hand and quipped, "Looks like (the secondary) is finally starting to
get a little intense."
• Running back Chris Bruhn
had a couple of nice runs and redshirt freshman, DB Eric Frampton picked
off a Kegel pass.
• Greene made sure to note that he has been extremely pleased with the work of his safeties Erik Coleman and Virgil Williams. "Coleman is back 100 percent, he hasn't lost anything," Greene said. "Virgil has looked real tough out there. Other teams will have their hands full (trying to play against us)."