Practice Report: Akamnonu Takes the Lead; Freshman DT Wallace Makes Impression

A ton of information today as head coach Kliff Kingsbury and four players spoke after practice.

Post practice non-transcript of head coach Kliff Kingsbury:

Kliff Kinsbury: We’re giving the two older guys a bit of rest, Justin Murphy and Tony Morales a bit of rest. Give Baylern an opportunity at center, but is still at left tackle . . . I think offensively, just ball security, all QB’s moved the ball well, defense started fast stopping us on the first two drives . . . Keenon Ward had a solid day, his tackling improved through spring and fall camp . . . Keke Coutee had a good day . . . T.J. Vasher has come a long way since getting here in fall camp, just a big talented guy and Jett Duffey, his operation of the system, Nik Shimonek has had the best percentage of stats of all QB’s . . . Derrick Willies should be back full-go tomorrow . . . Demarcus Fields will have shoulder surgery and redshirt this year . . . give Desmon Smith a bunch of reps playing safety, try to get that under his belt . . . Douglas Coleman and Desmon are getting better, they study extra and work hard, if they do that, they’ll get a chance . . . as a coach, we want it as hot as possible, it was nice today though, but I like the hot days . . . I think Dylan Cantrell really worked on his athleticism, more physical as a blocker, last year he would have had a huge impact, he is always consistent and a great example for the young guys . . . Joe Wallace is going to get in the rotation, he fires off the ball, he and Mycheleon Thomas is a guy that is going to play for us as well . . . Cantrell, if you look at it, can complete some fades, and Pat feels comfortable throwing to him, I expect us to have those red zone threats than we did last year . . . three of the offensive line has started games, Terence Steele is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, and Madison has stepped up with that fifth starter, I think that group is going to be very good . . . saw some highlights, Jakeem Grant, when the ball is in his hands, he’s hard to catch, DeAndre Washington is a complete back . . . Corey Dauphine, we have to keep him healthy, when he touches the ball, he’s like Justin Stockton . . .

Post practice non-transcript of QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Dylan Cantrell, LB Luke Stice and DB Jah’Shawn Johnson:

Patrick Mahomes: I thought I did well, the defense got after us at the beginning, but it was a good scrimmage on both sides . . . Jonathan Giles made some big catches over the middle . . . the defense was making plays, it was a heavy weight fight, they stopped us the first two times, but then we got on a roll . . . Giles is about toughness and confidence, and this year he is confident enough to go over the middle . . . T.J. Vasher with his body, as a tall guy, you expect him to be uncoordinated, he’s a young guy that is going to get on the field . . . Dylan Cantrell has 100% confidence he works hard, he has taken this year off to get better and stronger . . . last year we didn’t have it that much, but this year Cantrell can jump up and get it, Willies and Lauderdale can both do that . . . the offensive line has been spotty at times at offensive line for the freshman, I’ve worked on my game, inside the pocket lot of good protection . . . as a whole QB group, we’ve all executed at a high level, Nik Shimonek can execute when his number is called and Jett has really taken this as a learning time, and will make plays if he gets in the game . . . Shimonek and I are really good about watching film together, always give tips to each other and we’re always talking to each other trying to be the best quarterback group in the country . . . week to week I change cleats . . .

Dylan Cantrell: glad to get a lot of reps the first game type of situation, went well and good to get out there . . . think just getting rhythm back and getting back to playing football and confidence and with Pat . . . it was tough last year, it was a couple of weeks we thought we would go for it, I would sit out a week, I learned a lot of patience, just sitting back and observing and those close losses were tough because you know you could contribute, I think I’m better for it . . . I definitely took everything I could, I wasn’t moping and pouting, took a ton of mental reps got my upper body bigger and stronger . . . T.J. Vasher is picking up the offense quick, for his size, he is one of the more athletic guys I’ve seen, keep an eye on him in the future, when he gets the offense down, expect big things out of him . . . biggest difference between last year and this year is confidence, just another year in the system, and with Pat we have a sixty sense about it, and our speed, we got faster than ever and crips routes . . . biggest thing is kept my hands up with the jugs machine, just catching the ball, if you can catch everything, that gives you the most confidence . . . several guys before a game, they could tell I was down, that’s just part of it, just have to move on from it, we’re going to have a good year . . .

Luke Stice: this summer, was great, perfect opportunity to master the entire defense and lead other positions as well . . . definitely makes it easier being around Gibbs and Spavital, they are big effort guys, just fly to the football and clean it up from there . . . their biggest deal is fly to the ball and create turnovers, for the most part, Gibbs is one of the more classic defensive coordinators in the country . . . before Houston made their big improvement, they also changed strength coaches and in the offseason this is where things change, Coach Whitt is one of the best in the country, and that will prep us for the season, the changing the culture will help . . . me being a West Texas kid is the biggest thing for me . . . I believe it is a good opportunity for me, it’s where I feel the most comfortable . . . the biggest thing is showing up to work every day, the younger guys can get to them multiple days, have to show up at a high level and bring your teammates up as well . . . talking about what Whitt has done, could go all day, mental and physical toughness, instills you to be a better man on and off the field, we had to go out and compete and we had to work together during the offseason and that builds team chemistry . . .

Jah’Shawn Johnson: the scrimmage went well, the defense was flying around, the defense made some plays and had some good stops, limited the offense and looked good . . . Gibbs message wants me to be more consistent, not miss as many tackles, communicate better, being in position each play and just being more consistent . . . Cantrell can run by you and has a big body, he is sure-handed, it is tough playing a big body like that . . . definitely is a go-to guy and is a big help for the offense . . . definitely improved on my strength, gained 12 pounds this offseason, just strengthen my shoulders so I can deliver blows . . . Stice running after practice, definitely, is a great leader, everyone respects him for his hard work, he has been a big help from the linebacker group, he has been a big help to them . . . Stice has taken a lot of them under his wing, Johnathan Picone is one of the biggest guys he has helped . . . just making sure the whole secondary is in the right position as well as the linebackers, not panicking as much, just go out and play . . . pretty natural right now, have a good feel for the defense, it has been natural . . . his dad wants him to improve on everything, he knows about the missed tackles, trying to think about what the offense is going to do before they do it . . . the offense, we don’t know what they are going to do, there are 10 great receivers, and 4 great running backs, it is hard going up against them . . . the front seven are going to be a big help, they are all staying in their gaps, not trying to do too much . . . weigh in at 185 . . . Keenon Ward it starts with communication and we are on the same page and we all do the same tackling drills, we all like to get big hits, he has been a big help to me in the film room and I help him too . . .

That’s a ton of stuff to unpack here and considering the length of each video, I only had time to roll through it once.

  • Madison Akamnonu appears to be in the lead at the left guard spot and this really does set up for Akamnonu to be the left guard for a year and then take over at left tackle next year. That’s some good planning.
  • Also interesting that Kingsbury thinks that Steele is one of the best offensive linemen for his age he’s seen. He thinks he’s that good.
  • Joe Wallace is getting a lot of love from Kingsbury and Kingsbury confirmed today that Wallace is going to play.
  • DeMarcus Fields will have shoulder surgery and redshirt the entire year. I thought he might be an option at cornerback, but that doesn’t look to be the case now.
  • A question about Desmon Smith and Douglas Coleman led to Kingsbury talking about how both freshmen don’t like to get beat and it wouldn’t surprise me if they received meaningful snaps this year.
  • Derrick Willies should return at full-speed today.

LAJ’s Don Williams and RRS’s Will McKay both have notebooks from yesterday that center around the post-practice interview, so for a different voice other than mine, go check them out.

LAJ’s Don Williams writes a bit more about Jah’Shawn Johnson and as Johnson stated above, he has to work on consistency and being in the proper place as well as not missing tackles. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs and Johnson’s father, former NFL player Keith Davis, echoed those sentiments:

“Everybody talks about Jah’Shawn because he touches the football — he intercepts passes and he recovers fumbles and he strips the football,” defensive coordinator David Gibbs said last week. “That doesn’t mean the other 70 plays in a game that he knows what he’s doing or does the right thing.”

Johnson gets a double dose of unvarnished, sometimes harsh, critique. On top of Gibbs’ often-blunt assessments, former Dallas Cowboys defensive back Keith Davis can give his son a pro DB’s vantage point, too.

“He’s excited,” Johnson said of his dad’s critiques. “He knows about the missed tackles and things like that as well. He’s been harping on that and being in great position and trying to think about what the offense is going to do before they do it, so it’ll give me an extra step.”

LAJ’s Don Williams has an excellent look at each running back, with quotes from running backs coach DeShaun Foster on each player-man. This is good because you get of sense of the short-comings of each player. Demarcus Felton isn’t as adept at catching the ball out of the backfield, while Corey Dauphine is still learning the position.

Get to know freshman offensive lineman Travis Bruffy:

Wide receivers coach Emmett Jones discusses his wide receivers.


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