Cincinnati needs to develop depth across a wide variety of positions come fall. So coach Butch Jones is considering changing up the way his team practices in order to help get players more reps.
Essentially, Jones is thinking about dividing his team into two groups and having each practice on their own. So Group A would go for two hours in the early morning, and then Group B would go for two hours once Group A finished. Each player goes through one practice, and that maximizes the number of reps.
The big downside is that the system is a big strain on the coaches, who have to conduct four hours worth of practices rather than two. But Jones said he has seen several other schools use this method to get players more practice time.
"Maybe if you divide your team up, now all of a sudden everybody is getting the same amount of reps," Jones said in a recent interview. "They’re getting first-string quality reps. That’s what we need. The mother of all learning is repetition, so that’s what we’re looking for."
Several positions more than others could use that repetition:
Backup quarterback: Munchie Legaux and Jordan Luallen are the prime contenders to be the No. 2 player behind Zach Collaros, following the transfer of Chazz Anderson. Legaux and Luallen need all the reps they can get, so splitting them up could pay huge dividends considering Collaros needs a bulk of the reps to prepare for the season.
Kicker: Another big question mark here with the loss of Jake Rogers. Tony Miliano is the only kicker on the roster, and he was pushed this spring by punter Pat O'Donnell and receiver Danny Milligan. Jones said three more players will be brought into fall camp to compete for the starting job.
Linebacker: Walter Stewart is listed as a starter at defensive end and strongside linebacker. The reason -- not enough depth at the position to fill in all the roster spots. Incoming freshmen Dwight Jackson and Nick Temple are going to be thrown into the mix right away. Stewart is scheduled to play defensive end full time.
Receiver: Jones wants to see more out of junior college transfer Kenbrell Thompkins, who was slowed with a hamstring problem in the spring. Thompkins is at full go right now. He also wants more development out of Shaq Washington, Anthony McClung and incoming freshmen Alex Chisum and Chris Moore.
Running back: Getting good depth behind Isaiah Pead is a big key. Jones is looking forward to giving reps to incoming freshmen Ralph David Abernathy, Jameel Poteat and Akise Teague.
Offensive line: Jones wants to get a good rotation going with his offensive linemen, so spreading out reps will certainly help. Right guard is still up in the air.
"It’s a great challenge for the coaches because you’re out there for four or five hours, but when you look at the repetitions it brings to the development of your football team, for us and where we’re at, that merits further exploration, which is what we’re doing," Jones said.