So, yeah ... it's spring practice time. From my experience, there are three kinds of people that genuinely get excited for spring practice:
- The players, who get incredibly bored by the monotony of offseason workouts.
- The coaches, who see it as valuable teaching time.
- Football fans who, a month and a half after the end of the NFL season, miss it so badly that any whiff of action -- no matter how inconsequential -- gets them fired up.
Unfortunately, I don't fall into any of those categories; hence the somewhat facetious headline. Don't get me wrong, I do like spring practice, but when was the last time something of consequence was actually decided during these three weeks? Something that couldn't easily be undone in August? So, you'll have to forgive me for not hanging on every development of an activity in which players are routinely held out of in an effort to focus on academics or avoid risk of injury.
(Besides, I've got basketball to watch and baseball to look forward to. I am a man of seasons, and I like it that way.)
If you're someone who falls into category No. 3, I think that's awesome. Chances are, you're a premium subscriber to Cougfan already, and you're getting their mountainous blitz of spring practice info as I write this. Truthfully, we just don't have the resources or ability to cover spring practice in that way, so here's what you can expect from us over the next few weeks.
First of all, you can expect us to pass along information that we feel is of true import to our chances this fall. What that means is that you won't see a whole heck of a lot of speculation about position battles, which truly mean very little between now and August -- anything decided now can be quickly undecided when games are on the horizon. But you might see reports on things like injuries suffered that have potential to linger into the fall, or the performance of a guy like Johnny Forzani, who we haven't yet seen compete against Pac-10 level competition.
Second, you can expect us to provide a little perspective on what any developments might mean to the team's chances this fall, because that's what actually matters -- if we're actually going to be any better come September.
I guess what I'm saying is this: Expect us to write about spring practices, because they're important and -- let's be honest -- it gives us something to talk about now that the basketball team is done, but don't expect us to go crazy.
OK, now that I've got that out of the way, let's take a look at the information that's dribbling out of the first day that I find noteworthy:
- First of all, Marshall Lobbestael's knee is healthy enough for him to participate in 7 on 7, noncontact drills. That's a great development, because that means there's no reason he shouldn't be completely healthy come fall. He's still my personal favorite to win that job given the flashes of brilliance we saw out of him last year.
- Grippi noted this morning that the quarterbacks -- Kevin Lopina, JT Levenseller and Lobbestael -- all looked remarkably accurate in their passing drills. This was non-contact work, which makes you wonder: What could these guys do if they're ever not worrying about getting decapitated? Hopefully, the offensive line proves to be improved enough for us to find out this fall.
- Running back James Montgomery is clearly going to get some time to show what he can do in the backfield. I'm not so interested in who becomes the favorite to start at running back heading into the fall; I'm more interested in how he looks compared to Dwight Tardy and Logwone Mitz, since all we've heard is that he's just spectacular. It was tough for observers to tell last year as he ran with the scout team after transferring, and he'll get his chance now. Will he pass the eye test and distinguish himself this spring?
- Sounds like Forzani had a tough first day, but be patient. By all accounts, the guy is still pretty raw and is going to need some time. If we get through the next three weeks and we don't hear about any of those flashes, OK. Then it will be time to worry.
- Lots of talk about the increased size of many of the players. Consider me skeptical. It certainly can't hurt, but I can tell you this: We have no clue as to what it will actually mean in terms of performance this fall. Everybody looks great in spring drills when they're practicing against their own team. I'll feel better when it's clear that the increased size means we're not getting pushed five yards off the line of scrimmage by everyone in the Pac-10.
That's about it for now. One more helmet-only practice today (as I write this) and then full pads on Monday.