August 7, 2008

Freshmen battling for two-deep spots

No fewer than five true freshmen saw action with the second team offense or defense during Wednesday's practice, a reality coach Dennis Erickson said is necessitated by the talent on hand.

"We don't have much choice," Erickson said. "That's our depth right now in this program. There's a lot of freshmen that, when we recruited them, we felt that they could help us as freshmen and so we're going to give them that chance. It doesn't mean that's going to happen but we have a pretty good idea.

"So in the next two weeks they're going to get shots, and some will get shots with [the first-team] and [second-team] and we'll find out if they can play. There's a lot of guys where we have a pretty good idea what they can do. So these guys we've got to see if they can help us and strengthen us as far as our depth is concerned mainly."

On offense, receiver Gerell Robinson has been very impressive, backing up Chris McGaha at the z-position (flanker), while Zach Schlink and Patrick Jamison were with the second-team at right and left guard, respectively.

Jamison, in particular, was shaky at times during the workout, but Erickson said it's not a development that is unexpected or troublesome.

"We've got some young guys at a lot of different areas that have got to continue to get better and better and they are," he said. "With our young guys, particularly the offensive line there's a lot of things being thrown at them. We don't hold things back. So when we're in our third day of practice we're blitzing and bringing a lot of different people. So they've got to pick that stuff up, and it's always worked out at the end. We're executing pretty well offensively and we're flying around on defense so I'm pretty happy where we're at."

Defensively, Shelly Lyons has been the second-team middle linebacker and Clint Floyd has backed up Rodney Cox at strong safety.

Herring held out

First-string senior tailback Keegan Herring suffered a sprained right shoulder and was wearing a sling on his arm during practice. "We kept him out precautionary," Erickson said. "It's the same kind of shoulder (injury) he's had off and on his whole career. He kind of bumped it up a little bit. We're going to keep him out for a couple of days and he'll be ready to go."

Jones impressive

Though he spent his summer playing baseball for a New York Yankees minor-league affiliate, senior receiver Mike Jones didn't lose much in the way of his physical conditioning according to the head coach. "Mike's pleasantly surprised me," Erickson said "For not being here in the summer from playing baseball, those guys don't do much but swing. But actually he did some running and he's in good shape."

Kimbrough hurt

Senior receiver Nate Kimbrough was lifting weights earlier Wednesday at the Carson Center when a free weight fell and struck him in the side of the head and eye area, according to Erickson, Kimbrough missed practice and is expected to have an MRI to determine what, if any damage was sustained as a result of the freak accident.

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