Perhaps the biggest surprise was the size and consistency of DT Britton Barbee I know he's listed at 282 pounds, but he's added some weight and I was pretty impressed with his motor. I can see why the staff liked Barbee for his play during the Thursday night scrimmage. He didn't show up in the boxscore, but he's morphed himself into one of those plugging defensive linemen. Barbee may not get much time this year (he's a sophomore and will be a junior), but he's going to be a nice surprise to some of the graduating defensive talent after 2009. Colby Whitlock is as solid as he was last year. No worries about his play. Rajon Henley looked comfortable at both tackle and defensive end. Much like Whitlock, he's going to be solid, I just wonder how if he's got that playmaking ability that Dixon and Williams had (i.e. does he have the speed to get around the edge or the strength to get a push). Brandon Sesay was the surprise and made big plays, finishing with 3 tackles, two of which were sacks. He was going up against Joe King and so his competition wasn't the greatest. Take his performance with a grain of salt. If Sesay can be consistant with his play, then I like his chances, but he's got to do it in the classroom and on the field for more than just one or two plays. Brandon Sharpe also finished the day with 2 sacks and as good as Daniel Howard looked for the White Defense, Sharpe did for the Red Defense. I still think Howard is a bit more solid, but Sharpe is going to see quite a bit of time at defensive end.
Loved the play of Tyrone Sonier and I'm thinking that if he can take some time from Bront Bird, he adds a different dimension. I think he's got more speed than Bird and he's more likely to make plays whereas I tend to think that Bird will disappear during games. Sonier led the team with 6 tackles and one sack. Brian Duncan manned the middle admirably and I found myself watching more of Sonier and Blake Collier. I didn't notice anything glaring about Duncan's play. But to Collier, I like his speed at weakside linebacker and his interception reminded me that he's a former safety who should be pretty good in coverage. I'd love to see Ruffin McNeill take advantage of that. Sandy Riley made two tackles, but I didn't notice him too much. Again, watching Sonier and Collier.
As much as people are talking about Steven Sheffield's play against the Red Defense, I just didn't see it. I saw a Red Defense that didn't give up too many huge play, registered 5 sacks and 8 tackles for a loss. Yes, Sheffield looked okay, but I was honestly impressed with the play of the secondary and I thought that when I wrote about the White Offense, there were times that I thought Seth Doege had no options to throw the ball, all because the secondary had everyone covered up. I really liked the play of the safeties. I loved Franklin Mitchem and now I understand why the staff thinks he's going to start. Very rangy and a good hitter. He's going to be fine starting alongside Cody Davis. Brent Nickerson looked good at cornerback, although I'm not sure that he or Jarrell Routt breaks into the two-deep. With that being said, I thought that these guys played well. I wish I had noticed the play of Jared Flannel and Julius Howard, but in trying to watch so many other positions, I didn't pay as much attention to them as I probably should have. Booo, me.