Ford Field Open Practice: Defense, Special Teams

Ford Field Open Practice: Defense, Special Teams

March 28, 2016
Noah Furbush 793x

Noah Furbush

Yesterday, I posted my thoughts on Saturday’s practice regarding injuries, offense, and a few walk-ons to watch (LINK). Today I’ll address what I saw from the defense.

Depth: Chris Wormley, Taco Charlton, Chase Winovich, Lawrence Marshall, Reuben Jones, Carlo Kemp
Scoop: Wormley spent some time both outside and inside, and we already know what to expect from him. In fact, a lot of the starters seemed to be going about 90%, because going 100% would just be unfair. The defensive line was handling the offensive front pretty well. Charlton is a physical freak, and it looked like he spent some time at both Anchor (strongside end) and weakside end. Winovich was my surprise of the day, because he definitely looked like he belonged on the field. In fact, he was working so hard coming off the edge that a bit of a brawl started when Kyle Kalis chucked him to the ground after a play. Winovich uses good leverage and can bend well, and I think he’s going to see some time. Marshall didn’t do anything special, and I think he needs to add weight and become a strongside end; he just doesn’t have the quickness or instincts to be an edge rusher, in my opinion. Jones looked decent and competitive, but I think he’s probably another year or two away. Kemp has moved from linebacker – where he was a poor fit, in my opinion – to defensive end. In fact, both Jones and Kemp were working at linebacker in Florida, but neither one worked with the linebackers on Saturday. Shelton Johnson is nursing an injury and did not practice. Maurice Hurst, Jr. had an ankle injury that was making him gimpy, and he was playing some Anchor at times but was ineffective (more due to injury than a lack of ability).

Hit the jump for the rest of the defense.

Bryan Mone, Matt Godin, Maurice Hurst Jr., Brady Pallante, Garrett Miller
Scoop: Mone is huge but out of shape. He really seemed to be struggling with the four-hour practice, which is understandable after missing so much time with his broken leg. Godin looked pretty effective at defensive tackle. Hurst and Wormley were playing inside and outside, but as mentioned above, Hurst didn’t have much to give with a bum ankle. Pallante was the #2 nose tackle most of the day and didn’t do much. The defensive line is so banged up, really, that Miller got a few snaps; I don’t think he’s in danger of pushing for playing time. Ryan Glasgow was doing some non-contact drills early, but then he was running steps, presumably because he’s still recovering from the pectoral injury he suffered last season.

SAM (Jabrill Peppers, Noah Furbush, Jack Dunaway), MIKE (Ben Gedeon, Michael Wroblewski), WILL (Mike McCray, Devin Bush Jr.)
Scoop: Reinforcements are hopefully coming in the fall from freshmen like Joshua Uche and Khaleke Hudson, because the position is pretty thin right now. Peppers was first in drills with the SAM linebackers, who are being coached by Chris Partridge. He lines up in a 9-technique at the line of scrimmage, bumps out into the slot to cover the flat, etc. Furbush is a bigger body and looks the part of a SAM linebacker, but he didn’t make many plays. He’s probably a little more athletic than Brennen Beyer, but the same type of player out there. You’ll probably see him more against run-oriented teams or on running downs, whereas Peppers is more of the spread/pass defender. Dunaway got reps in drills, but not during team situations. Meanwhile, Don Brown has the inside linebackers. The two starting inside linebackers (Gedeon, McCray) looked good stuffing the run and in coverage of the underneath zones. I was skeptical, but I think those two might be a step up from the departed inside linebackers. Wroblewski looks out of place and is listed as a defensive end on the roster, and he seems more like a placeholder. Bush looked pretty good aside from the 75-yard TD he allowed on the amazing catch by Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. He was making tackles to support the run off the edge, chased down Joe Hewlett when he broke outside for a decent run, etc. Bush doesn’t look out of place, and I think he’ll play this fall. Even on the TD allowed, he had great coverage and just lost out on a great throw and catch. I do not remember seeing Jared Wangler out there unless he was wearing a different number.

Depth: Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling, Jeremy Clark, Brandon Watson, Keith Washington
Scoop: Lewis had a good day other than getting beaten for a 25-yard TD on an O’Korn-to-Darboh throw. Stribling was the other corner running with the first team. He had a couple more “almost” plays where he just wasn’t quick enough to get his hands on the ball; my thoughts on Stribling are probably pretty well understood by this point. Insiders at Rivals and 247 say he has maybe been the best defensive player out there this spring, but he wasn’t on this day. He also got beaten cleanly by Grant Perry on a play action post route that was good for a TD from about 45 yards out, and Stribling was trailing Perry by about 3 yards when he caught the ball. Clark was running with the twos, and didn’t do anything noteworthy; however, he did win sprints in his group by a significant margin, and his group included Jabrill Peppers. Watson and Washington didn’t do much good or bad.

Dymonte Thomas, Delano Hill, Jabrill Peppers, Tyree Kinnel, A.J. Pearson, Jordan Glasgow
Scoop: Thomas and Hill are pretty strongly entrenched, and Peppers was playing some safety at times with the first group. Kinnel was the next safety in and had a pick-six against O’Korn where he jumped a short out route by a tight end. Pearson and Glasgow aren’t bad for being walk-ons, and they’re guys who could probably play against the UNLVs and Miami-OHs of the world without being huge liabilities. Hill seemed to go to the sideline for long stretches, so maybe he’s nursing an injury or maybe the coaches wanted a longer look at Kinnel.

Just a few random notes:

  • Punt returners were Jabrill Peppers, Amara Darboh, Drake Harris, and walk-on Austin Brenner. Darboh has the best hands of the bunch.
  • Kickoff returners were mainly Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling.
  • I didn’t watch the punters much, but Kenny Allen seems to have the job locked up unless Quinn Nordin comes in this summer and takes it away.
  • Allen looks like the best kicker, too, even though he had some misses. I don’t think I saw Andrew David make a single field goal.
  • Garrett Moores – a walk-on QB – looks like he’ll be the holder this season. He was the only one working at holder, and that was the only position he was playing. He and Allen spent a lot of time talking about the placement of the hold.
  • Chris Partridge is the special teams coach. Jay Harbaugh seems like the #2 guy, but Partridge is clearly in charge of specials.

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