DAY 13 REPORT: Position Look at Linebackers
Aug. 14, 2014
The Hurricane returned to the grass of Harwell field after yesterday's scrimmage, and Head Coach Bill Blankenship talked about the progress his team has made after havaing an opportunity to review the film.
"We had good film review. We had lot of film to go over from the scrimmage. We were very pleased. I thought the first units were really completing well, playing hard," said Blankenship. "We have some corrections to make. We busted a couple of coverages on the defensive end, which gave up some big plays, so it's a double-edged sword. The number one offense scored about six times the way we formatted the scrimmage, and that is probably more than should have happened if you're as good defensively as we want to be. But that's encouraging for our offense, especially because we were doing that with mainly young running backs in the game."
"We came over to Harwell field for our very first practice where we're really focused on Tulane. Introducing a scout report and trying to start teaching guys how to be scout team players and look like Tulane, and as as normal the first day they don't do very well. So there is a learning curve on how to practice getting ready for a new opponent. It heated up today, but we were working in the afternoon for that reason," added Blankenship.
Tulsa will be back on the practice field in the morning.
LINEBACKER POSITION UPDATE
Tulsa lost one of the top linebackers in school history and the 2013 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Shawn Jackson to graduation. But, the cupboard isn't bare as seven lettermen return to the linebacker corps.
Remaining healthy has been an issue for the linebacker position, but if healthy, the group appears to be solid for the Hurricane.
Sophomore Trent Martin (6-2, 235), who received a medical hardship last year, leads the pack at linebacker. Martin has played in 13 career games with nine starts and has collected 66 tackles in his career. Senior Donnell Hawkins (6-1, 220), who was productive in 2014 as he registered 50 tackles in just six games with three double-figure tackle games, possesses the versatility to play the fill in at the different linebacker positions
"Trent (Martin) has become a great leader for us defensively, so that really helps to put him in the middle. Getting Donnie (Donnell Hawkins) back has really given us some speed that we were missing earlier in camp. He's been very active and has been hard to block," said Blankenship.
Red-shirt freshman Craig Suits (6-0, 220) and senior Mitchell Osborne (6-2, 210) have battled for a starting spot. Suits' is the starter at this point of preseason camp after turning in an impressive spring. Osborne is a seasoned three-year veteran, who has totaled 135 tackles, nine pass break-ups and four forced fumbles in his career. Fellow senior Luke Snider (5-10, 185), another key contributor on special teams, provides great speed on the outside from the `Cane position as well. Freshman red-shirt C.J. Gooden (6-1, 220) and sophomore Conner Sherwood (6-3, 232) have competed at the WILL position.
"One of the biggest improvements that we've seen is at our `CANE linebacker spot where Mitchell Osborne, Craig Suits and Luke Snider play. I think the fact that Craig has really jumped into the mix has made Mitch a better player. Both of those guys are playing at a really high level right now," said Blankenship.
"One of the things Coach Guy has worked hard on is to make sure that we have 3-4 players that can be versatile," added Blankenship.
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