[H]ere’s what the QBs took away from studying Eagles’ quarterback Nick Foles, who starred in Chip Kelly’s no-huddle spread attack last year, from redshirt freshman Eddie Printz: "Getting the ball out quick is the key, whether it’s a screen, quick game or 90s game. You don’t want to have the ball in your hands for more than 2.5 seconds. Even in 90s game, when a guy’s got to run a 14- or 18-yard comeback, 2 1/2 seconds is a long time. You’ve got to be able to make a move, make a play, make a throw as fast as possible. Getting the ball out quick is definitely a point we focus on."
(I consulted Chris Brown of SmartFootball.com to explain what Printz meant here by 90s game. In today's verbiage, 90s game is typically used to describe the quick passing game, though in Mike Leach's Air Raid system, 90s game referred to pass plays that included a five-step drop. Brown said, in this context, 90s game refers to drop-back passing, likely a 3-step drop out of a shotgun formation, which equates to a five-step drop out of an under-center play.)
With the move of Marcus Murphy to a sometimes-slot receiver, junior Russell Hansbrough becomes the unquestioned No. 1 option at tailback. Murphy will still get carries out of the backfield; so, too, will redshirt sophomore Morgan Steward and perhaps at least one of the freshmen, Ish Witter and Trevon Walters. [...]
But, for now, Hansbrough is option 1A at RB. He said with Murphy's move comes more responsbility for him -- at least in the eyes of the coaching staff.
"They're putting a lot more trust in me," Hansbrough said. "Obviously saying I can take a bigger load on my back."
In the wake of Levi Copelin’s NCAA season-long suspension, the staff told walk-on senior Gavin Otte that he’s the team’s fourth receiver in 10 personnel (four-wide receiver packages), Otte said. (He’ll line up in the slot, along with Jimmie Hunt, with Bud Sasser and Darius White on the outside.) But now Murphy’s in the mix at the same position.
"That’s not too much of a surprise," Otte said. "He’s a hell of a playmaker when the ball’s in his hands. He can get open, too."
Freshman Lawrence Lee could also figure into that role, too. Either way, Otte sounded confident that he’ll be part of the rotation at the start of the season — provided he produces in the preseason scrimmages.
"I feel good. We're just really making sure it's 100 percent," McGovern said. "The worst thing we can do right now is go a little too early when it's feeling good, but not great and completely tear it. [...]
In McGovern's absence, he says backup junior right tackle Taylor Chappell has been impressive.
"He's playing at a good level, getting ready to go," McGovern said. "Younger guys, Mike Fairchild is doing really, really well. A couple minor tweaks on him and he'll be a great player. All the freshmen are playing great. They're a little raw, but they all understand what they're doing.
"Nate Crawford, coming over from defense, is doing really well. It's good to see that the stuff we did in summer didn't go to waste."
Talked a bit with Harold Brantley about his trips up and down the depth chart. He said he got down to 255 pounds after an illness in the spring, he's at around 275 right now and he'd ideally like to play at 285 or 290.
Brantley said he's working at second string behind Lucas Vincent at nose guard, but the coaches want to use him outside as well. It's been difficult to get any sense of consistency: "I've been trying to find that right weight where I can be effective both inside and outside."
Brantley said it's all been a bit frustrating: "It's such a long journey, such a long process to get back to the first game. You feel like you're working, working and working and you're not making any progress. But because of my great teammates and friends on the team, they gave me confidence and let me know I'm still a great player. I just have to keep working for it."
[Kentrell] Brothers continued his solid early play on an ensuing snap when he made a nice run fit to nail Hansbrough for no gain on a run attempt off guard...
Later in the day, red zone scrimmaging took place, and LB Donavin Newsome made a nice diving pass break up over the middle on a pass that looked like it would be completed from QB Eddie Printz to Echard. Shortly after that, DE Rickey Hatley blew up a run attempt in the backfield for a loss of about five yards, when he bull-rushed his blocker and grabbed TB Miles Drummond almost instantly after Drummond took the hand off...
For the final period, with the score tied at 2-apiece between the offense and defense, the #2 offense went up against the #1 defense first from their own 34 yardline. TB Miles Drummond was stopped for a short gain by the tandem of DE Markus Golden and [Mike] Scherer. Scherer also came through the line a couple of snaps later to stop TB Trevon Walters for a loss. QB Eddie Printz found TE Clayton Echard for a couple of completions, with the first going for about 10 yards and a first down, with the other one picking up five yards over the middle...
Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel seems excited about his new projected starters at cornerback, sophomores John Gibson and Aarion Penton.
"They’re really athletic," Steckel said. "They can change direction. They can move."
What’s better, Steckel said, is they’re figuring out where to move to.
"They’re learning the defense better and getting better at where they’re supposed to be," Steckel said. "It’s one thing to be a great athlete, but if you can’t get where you’re supposed to be to perform your athleticism, it’s a different story."
The Tiger specialists are fairly set this season. Christian Brinser will punt, Andrew Baggett will handle the kicks and Jake Hurrell returns to long snap. Marcus Murphy ought to once again handle all the returns. But the Tigers are looking for that next return man to give Murphy a breather and to take over when he is gone in 2015.
Freshmen Ish Witter, Wingo and Thomas Wilson have all spent some time working on punt returns during practice in the last few days.