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August 9, 2012Today tight ends coach Jeff Blasko, quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus and selected players talked with the media after their morning practice.
Yesterday the team had just one practice in their seventh day of camp. The play of the day belonged to the offense. Wide receiver Kale Pick was running a 14 yard comeback route and made a leaping one handed catch from Dayne Crist near the sidelines over a cornerback.
"It was the catch of the camp," Michael Cummings said.
Today the team will practice twice, and the coaches were pleased with tempo for the morning practice.
"From an offense perspective I thought it was very good," tight ends coach Jeff Blasko said. "For two a days you have to install the night before and we didn't have a big install but we had enough formation adjustments and motion adjustments and things that could potentially of caused some mental issues out there but we did a nice job of handling it."
New Faces at Tight End
The last several years the tight end position has been dominated by Tim Biere, but this year there's some new faces.
The big name is Notre Dame transfer Mike Ragone. Aside from being the most quotable player on the team, Blasko says that Ragone along with Jimmay Mundine are the group's two most complete tight ends.
"Early on we had to shake some of the rust off of [Mike] but since then he is doing a great job at the point of attack," Blasko said. "You can tell he's played a lot of football. He brings a lot of leadership ability to the table because of all the experience he has. It's been a great fit for our offense to this point."
Blasko said junior college transfer Charles Brooks is essentially a basketball player playing the tight end position. His strength is in running routes and using his athleticism to make plays in the passing game. His biggest challenge will be learning to block from a three point stance.
Tight end Trent Smiley strength is in blocking. He also has a strong understanding of the offense and is one of the more reliable tight ends in blitz pickup.
The blend of different types of tight ends should give Weis some extra creativity in how he uses that position in the offense.
"That's really what coach is known for is getting as many personnel groups to move guys around and get guys in position to do what they do best," Blasko said. "That's what separates Coach Weis from the other coordinators in college football and the NFL."
Tight End Meeting Room
The players say there is a more serious tone in the tight ends meeting room this year. One of the ways Blasko makes sure players are paying attention is he will randomly pick a player and quiz him over something from earlier in the meeting.
"He asks the question fast because he wants to see if you know what's going on," Jimmay Mundine said. "You are definitely on your toes a little more and paying more attention knowing that he might just randomly ask you a question."
Quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus Q&A
On the backup quarterback situation:
"Dayne (Crist) has been a great leader for our position and he's done a great job. The guys behind him, who are working for that No. 2 role, have been working hard. We need to be as consistent as we can be in that No. 2 spot. Those guys have been working hard; they have great leadership in front of them in Dayne and Jake (Heaps) leading the way, but as Turner (Baty) and Michael (Cummings) battle to fill in that role. They're both working hard at it."
On the most difficult thing to pick up in Charlie Weis' offense:
"There's a lot of communication that has to go on from the head coach, who is the offensive coordinator, to the quarterback and then on to the rest of the team. A lot of things get identified at the line of scrimmage for them to deal with. There are a lot of nuances that they have to see and make decisions and make decisions quickly to put us in the best situation to have a successful play. They're not in a situation where they just call a play, walk up and run it. There is a lot of thinking that has to has to go on every second."
On when you know that a quarterback understands the offense:
"You can see it click, because what you see is guys start to move around faster and you see them start to play faster. Their voice gets a little louder, their throws are a little stronger and their movements are a little cleaner. They aren't getting bogged down with thinking so much; it's freeing up their body to go play football the way they should."
On his impressions of Dayne Crist so far in camp:
"Dayne had a great offseason here and a great summer. Physically, he's in great shape. He's moving around well. I believe that he has improved physically from the time he got here until now. Mentally, he continues to grow and improve. He's the kind of guy that he can help himself solve problems at the line of scrimmage. When you can do that, it's a tremendous benefit to the team. We've seen him grow and improve since he's been here and we'll continue to work hard every day."