What happens when you mix in the Florida heat, intense competition, and hitting the same guys over and over again for almost three weeks? You get Thursday’s practice. From all accounts, today was one of the chippiest practices of the preseason, even though the Bulls were just in shells (helmets and shoulder pads).
“We came out and had a great practice, being competitive out there. A lot of talking was going but also we were getting good work in and everyone was having fun,” junior defensive tackle Kevin Bronson said.
Bronson, along with sophomore Marlon Gonzalez and seniors Bruce Hector and Deadrin Senat will be charged will clogging up the middle of the defense in new defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary’s scheme. The Bulls would like at least one more defensive tackle to rotate in during games to keep everyone fresh. True freshmen Kevin Kegler and Kelvin Pinkney have a legitimate shot at being the fifth tackle.
“They’re still learning how we do thing and they’re still adjusting,” defensive tackle coach Sean Cronin said. “One play they look like they’re ready right now and the other play they couldn’t seem further away. If we could eliminate the negative stuff that they do, they have the physical ability to do it.”
Converted linebacker Mi’Cario Stanley put on 26 pounds to play on the line. He now weighs 274 and he will have a shot at playing time as well after getting acclimated to the new position.
“He was really a fish out of water [in spring] but now he’s starting to figure it out,” Cronin said.
Cronin knows it’s unrealistic to expect the starters to play 85-90 snaps in a game, especially with the speed at which some college offenses play. He wants to be able to substitute when a player gets gassed and not have much dropoff.
Bronson and Hector have been cross-training as defensive ends as well during camp. Bronson saw time as and end last season, but Hector did not. When the Bulls use a 3-3-5 alignment, Hector has moved to the outside quite often.
- Saftey Tajee Fullwood did not practice but the walking boot on his left foot was gone. Some progress, hopefully.
- Linebacker Andre Polk was off to the side during team drills. CB Ronnie Hoggins was also working on the side.
- Defensive ends Vincent Jackson Jr, Frank Johnson, Juwuan Brown, and Kirk Livingstone were all held out.
- RB’s Trevon Sands, Elijah Mack and Duran Bell (left leg wrapped) were not out there during team drills.
- Athlete Chauncy Smart had a soft cast on his right wrist/thumb.
- WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling was dressed but didn’t practice. He has not gone through a full practice in nearly two weeks.
- QB Chris Oladokun was suited up after missing time with an illness. He returned to practice yesterday.