MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 2008
JU goes through first two-a-day practice
The easy part of fall camp is over for the JU football team.

The Dolphins endured their first day of two practices, better known as two-a-days, on Monday with a fully padded practice in the morning followed by a shorts and pads practice in the afternoon.

The two-a-day came after the JU freshmen hit the practice field on Sunday to do some catch up on the offense and defensive systems.

“We gave the guys a lot of time off over the weekend and had a really good freshman practice on Sunday,” said JU head coach Kerwin Bell. “We emphasized after the scrimmage that the next two weeks is where you separate yourself.”

One of the biggest improvements has been the intensity of each practice as each play is hotly contested, with the defense flying to the ball.

“I’ve been pleased with the intensity of the practices so far,” Bell said. “We had a really physical practice in the morning, but everyone was getting after it, which was good to see.”

The defense continues to shine with a greater emphasis on forcing turnovers. The Dolphins have one of the deepest defensive backfields in the PFL, with several of the newcomers stepping up to the challenge.

But the depth isn’t limited to the defensive backs, as the Dolphins have battles for playing time along the front seven as well.

“We have a lot of athletes who can run and hit you,” Bell said. “The defensive coaches are doing a great job of focusing on turnovers. They are swarming to the ball, which makes for a good defense.”

Offensively, the front five continued to improve with the most marked improvement being along the front. The Dolphins have depth with several freshmen who have made big strides in the first week of practice.

“We’ve got a lot of guys up front that are playing well,” Bell said. “Our young linemen – Ian Osking, Billy Peach, Chris Halverson – along with our veterans Michael Aguilar and Chris Tessitore have really come together.

“Another guy who has really stepped up in my estimation is Leonard Payton. Here’s a guy who wasn’t even supposed to play as a freshmen and did so at 230 lbs. Now he’s back for his sophomore season at 280 and is 100 percent better than last year.”

While the offensive line comes together, the skill positions will have a raging battle throughout camp. Each of the receivers and running backs have made an impact, with several of the newcomers making a push for playing time.

“We have 12 to 14 guys who can play for us at wide receiver,” Bell said. “Josh Philpart is one of the young guys at receiver who has really improved and made an impact.

“At running back, Rudell Small continues to improve and we’ve got two very special players in J.J. Laster and Keith Dawson who will be important to our success this season.”