Post-Practice Update

* I missed the beginning of practice because of a work meeting, but what I saw wasn’t too pretty, and the offensive coaches weren’t happy after practice.

* Part of the problem with the offensive cohesiveness and energy was because of the absence of starters Taylor Embree and Anthony Barr to minor tweaks – calf for Embree and hamstring for Barr, both small issues – but the second- and third-team guys need to be ready now for the offense to click, and it appears they’re not.

* The defense, particularly the defensive line, really looks good right now, and I don’t think it’s a product of the offense looking bad. The defense is just playing at a fever pitch right now, and there seems to be a really good dynamic going on between the defensive linemen, as the play doesn’t seem to drop between the top eight guys in the rotation. Inoke Breckterfield has really stressed the four-play-of-fury maxim, eliciting isolated bursts of energy from his guys that has been lacking. Donovan Carter looked good today, and he’s a guy to keep an eye on.

* In the later session 11-on-11 red zone drill, there were a couple of really nice offensive plays, including a Joseph Fauria-and-Chris Ward tandem block that broke Malcolm Jones for a touchdown.

* Tevin McDonald, Dalton Hilliard and Alex Mascarenas got a lot of time with the first-team defense today, and they shined.

* Something interesting: Because sports is often a zero-sum game – one team wins, one team loses, one play is bad for one side, good for the other – fans and the media in particular tend to rate football plays and practices based on success or lack of success. If a defense makes a stop, they “won.” If the offense makes a completion, they “won.” But after yesterday’s practice didn’t look very good on offense, I was surprised to hear Mike Johnson and Rick Neuheisel call it one of the best they’ve had, despite drops, missed throws, etc. Johnson and I had a great chat after practice today about how different things look on film, and how yesterday was some of the best “execution” that the unit has had, in terms of being in the right place and doing the right thing. I think it’s easy to judge just based on if the play works or doesn’t work, and it’s easy to be critical when it doesn’t work, but he really opened my eyes about how the coaches see things a little differently with the benefit of film. I’ll keep that in mind.