You’d think the football writer would be glad basketball is over, so the BBN can refocus their attention onto football. Nope, wrong. Not even for a second. It’s been two days of misery and I don’t see myself getting over it anytime soon. My best solution is to talk about the improved football team. You’ll get much more of that later in the week, but until then, enjoy a somber roundup from today’s post-practice presser.
– Keep your plans open Saturday morning. If you plan on watching the team practice at all this Spring, this Saturday is the day to do it. Nothing is official yet, but Stoops talked about opening up practice for a scrimmage as the de facto Spring Game.
There won’t be 40,000 people to add to the hype, but players’ families and recruits will pack the sidelines to watch a scrimmage of “good on good.” By putting the ones up against the ones, he’s hoping for a much better product than than what normally gets put on the field with mixed teams during a Spring Game.
– Ryan Flannigan is starting to “get it.” He credits much of his success to watching film after practice, allowing him to learn before applying that knowledge to the next practice. Last year was mentally tough on the late arrival, unable to react during the game because he was too busy thinking. In addition, he’s entered the role of “Senior leader.” It’s not the easiest task for many, but he is taking it in stride alongside Josh Forrest, “We’re just trying to be team leaders with good plays. As Seniors, we’re trying to get everybody to step up, play fast and bring everybody together.
– With interviews winding down, Melvin Lewis was trying to distract Denzil Ware during an interview with Alan Cutler (you’d think the stache was enough). Lewis was wearing some practice gear with “Hyde” on the back. When I asked Jacob if he stole it, he replied, “No, he just wants to be like me.”
– Without football, it was a “different world” for Mike Edwards. He’s never been an entire year without football, but he had to watch it all from a distance last season after having his labrum surgically repaired. “It humbled me. It makes me understand how football is — how life is,” Edwards said. It took him awhile to get his mind right, but that’s no problem now that he’s back on the field.
– The safeties are solid, but the secondary has to get better on the outside. Stoops has always made sure his face is seen regularly in the secondary group, but even more so this season without a specific coach for the safeties. “We’re playing excellent in the safety position. If I could just get those corners straight,” he joked, taking credit for their success.
Most of the credit is due to the players. A.J. Stamps was excellent last year as the free safety and Marcus McWilson has continually improved at the strong position. Mike Edwards and Darius West were essentially out of all football activities in the Fall because of injuries, but the highly-ranked recruits have stepped in seamlessly as #2’s on the depth chart.
Determining the depth chart at cornerback, however, is much trickier. ” I think what’s helping us is we’re getting more and more depth and getting the talent level at that depth,” Stoops said. “It’s really nice to (see), when you’re working with some guys who are maybe running second-team or third-team that are talented and you know are going to be players some day.”