Camp Notes: Day 3

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Written by Stephanie Graves, Blog Contributor

  • With the addition of pads at practice today, the defense had the opportunity to shine. Kiffin lauded his front seven's performance after practice and also noted that linebackers Devon Kennard and Michael Morgan, cornerback Nickell Robey and safety Jawanza Starling were difference makers throughout the day.

  • Speaking of Kennard, the race for the starting middle linebacker spot is still to be determined as both Kennard and Galippo are playing at the top of their game, Kiffin said.

  • If anyone could rival defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron in a shouting match, it would be new offensive coordinator Kennedy Pola. He used that intensity to inspire his offensive linemen to protect the squad's plethora of prized running backs against the defense's strong attack.

  • Speaking of running backs, with the addition of pads, Allen Bradford was able to uphold his beast-like reputation when he was the first tailback to break through the defense today. Bradford never goes around obstacles only through them.

  • Though he didn't receive as many carries, Curtis McNeal proved that at 5-7, he can find and fit through holes that others can't.

  • For all the running backs today, Pola put an emphasis on finishing strong. During team runs, "RB U" was told to continue the drill even after being swarmed by Coach O's Magnificent Seven.

  • Shifting to the offense, the typically deep receiving corps was down four sets of hands as De'Von Flournoy (shoulder), Kyle Prater (hip), Brandon Carswell (thigh) and Scott Stephens (knee) all nursed a variety of not-too-serious injuries.

  • With Prater's 6-5 frame absent from the field, senior David Ausberry, at 6-4 and 235 pounds, stepped in to fill the rather large role. This was clearly Ausberry's day to shine as his size and consistency stood out from among the talented group of wideouts.

  • In a bit of an experiment, redshirt freshman linebacker Simione Vehikite practiced at fullback today.  Remember, Vehikite spent 2009 as a fullback.  

  • Kiffin ordered fullback Stanley Havili to not attend meetings and practice today, saying he was disappointed in Havili involvement in last week's incident that led to T. J. Bryant's fractured cheekbone.  Kiffin said he plans to take things day to day with the senior fullback and does not have an estimate for his return.

  • With wide receiver Damian Williams now playing for the Tennessee Titans, the search is on to see who will fill his NFL-sized shoes for punt return duties. Though several running backs and receivers are possibilities, including newcomers Robert Woods, Markeith Ambles and Dillon Baxter, no clear choice stand outs this early in camp.

  • The new emphasis on special teams continued to be apparent with extra time and new drills at today's practice, including one that had players going the width, instead of the length of the field.  

  • Though practice ended with a few impressive touchdowns, the most notable came from junior Jurrell Casey after a fumble recovery. It's not every day you find a defensive tackle in the end zone.

  • At last night's team meeting, walk-on center Abe Markowitz was called up front supposedly to apologize to his team. What for, he wondered?  Excellence. His hard work and determination earned him a full scholarship. Markowitz stood there stunned as his teammates cheered and applauded. "It feels great," Markowitz said.

  • Ironically, as the receiving corps shrunk, the quarterback corps grew today with freshman Anthony Neyer (#6) and sophomore Emon Saee (#17), both walk-ons, able to suit up sans pads. This brings the total number of gold jerseys to seven.

  • Emon Saee (EE-mon saw-EE) is a 6-2, 200-pounder out of Calabasas (Calif) High, where he played quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back and linebacker. He spent the past two years at Moorpark (Calif.) JC but did not play football there.

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