Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Collins, Smith and Thomas back at practice

It's looking like Yale's offense is getting closer to being at full strength.

Offensive tackle Roy Collins, receiver Chris Smith and running back Alex Thomas took part in Tuesday's practice in varying degrees. All three players were injured in the loss to Penn. They were all held out of practice last week and missed Saturday's game against Columbia.

Collins, who injured his ankle, saw the most action on Tuesday. In the time I was there, he saw most of the time at right tackle with the starters. Thomas, who suffered a knee injury against the Quakers, was in the backfield for a handful of snaps. Smith, who has missed two games with a tender hamstring, did not take part in an team drills but did some individual workouts.

"(Thomas) is still a little tender but he got a few reps in today," Yale coach Tom Williams said. "Roy was back and pretty close to full speed and Chris was back. He didn't go through everything but he did go through individual (drills) and tomorrow we are going to try to get him some team reps and just kind of slowly ramp him up. I think we are getting closer to where we need to be health wise. They should be available for Saturday. Obviously the next couple of days will be important for Chris and Alex to get full-speed reps but they are on their way. The plan today is try to ease them into it and tomorrow and Thursday get them ready for game speed."

Starting left tackle Wes Gavin is still unable to practice because of an ankle injury and seems unlikely to be back for Saturday's game against Brown.

I didn't get a complete sense of the quality of the hold on Philippe Panico's 38-yard field goal under white-out conditions on Saturday until I replayed the tape of the game.

The snap on the kick was low and slightly wide but sophomore Jake Semones calmly snared the snap and was able to get it down in time for Panico to make the kick for the first points in Yale's 16-13 win.

"I couldn't see it on the field because his back was to me and also because of the snow," Williams said.  "That ball was about this low off the ground (holding his hands about an inch or two apart) and to the side. He picked it and got it back in place with no problem at all. That is why he is so valuable.

"His holds have been like that all year and Philippe has great confidence in him. That is what made a difference in the kick, the fact that Philippe did not have to break stride at all. It was the difference in the game. I thought three points might be enough to win it and it ended up being the difference. It was a great hold, unbelievable but he has been like that all year. I think I was watching the TV copy and the guys said that the holder never gets any attention unless he drops the ball. That has been great because Jake has been good the whole year."

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