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March 6, 2013

Wednesday Practice Insider

With a definite winter feel and rain threatening for most of the morning, the Bulldogs took to Jim Sweeney Field for the sixth day of spring practices.

Practice started on a physical note today as players on offense and defense faced off in a one-on-one drill looking to overpower each other. The drill eventually took to mid-field as certain match-ups were called out and players and coaches cheered on the competition.

Special teams and individual drills followed as the team prepared for their live sessions later in the morning. Overall head coach Tim DeRuyter was pleased with the effort of his players and likes how the team is coming along so far in the spring.

"I like how we're competing," DeRuyter said. "We got guys who like the game of football that come out here with good energy and they like getting after it."

One of those guys is first team All-Mountain West nose tackle Tyeler Davison who is looking to build off his great 2012 season where he recorded 42 tackles (six for a loss) and recovered three fumbles (one for a touchdown).

Davison anchors a line that is looking to do big things as it returns three starters. Along with Davison, defensive ends Andy Jennings (second team All-Mountain West) and Nikko Motta return and both made big contributions in 2012 as well. And for the most part, Davison is impressed on how the unit is piecing together.

"We had a good starting point compared to last year where we had to start everything brand new," Davison said. "This year we already know most of the stuff, so it's just building off what we already know and I think we are doing a good job at that."

Davison called the defensive line the "backbone of the defense" and while they look to be solid upfront, Davison feels this year more players can fill in to make plays on the line.

"I feel like we are going to have more solid depth this year," Davison said. "The younger guys have really been stepping up."

And while the defense all in all lost some key defenders, Davison is not concerned too much and feels like the defense can still play at a high level.

"We got some positions to fill, but that's normal and the guys stepping up will fill in," Davison said. "Overall the defense is doing well, everything is clicking and we're working together so we'll be good."

And as expectations for the team continue to loom over of the 2013 Bulldogs to do big things, Davison was quick to say the outside pressure is not affecting the team.

"Our own expectations is what really matters and they are a lot higher than what a lot of people's expectation are," Davison said. "So as far as the outside pressure I feel like it doesn't really affect us because we got pressure from ourselves to worry about first and foremost."

Dog Bones

  • Another day of pads and full contact for the Bulldogs.

  • DeRuyter still is looking at the offense to get better especially in the turnover department. "The thing we got to do better at is taking care of the football, we turn it over too many times."

  • On the other hand DeRuyter was impressed with the defense. "Defensively I'm happy, guys are forcing some takeaways and we got to continue to do so."

  • DeRuyter said that safety Charles Washington has caught his eye in practice so far as he's been placed with the task of replacing Phillip Thomas. "He's doing some really good things at safety, he's been here a year now and I know he feels much more comfortable and he's playing faster."

  • The presence of wide receivers Josh Harper and Victor Dean coming back from injury have also been noticeable and DeRuyter likes what he sees. "They're guys we didn't have down the stretch and it's fun seeing so those guys compete."

  • As far as the backup quarterback position, DeRuyter as not seen anyone make a huge stride above the others. "Nobody has jumped ahead just yet. Each day, each drill, someone is doing something better than the other and until someone can consistently be the guy, we won't know who the number two guy will be until the fall."

  • The number of injuries jumped up to six today as players rehabbed on the sidelines. Most notably honorable All-Mountain West cornerback Sean Alston was out with his arm in a sling.

    You can follow Rudy Rendon on Twitter at @rendonrudy.


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