A few notes and quotes from Thursday's practice, beginning with the news of the day ...
1. If you have not heard, junior running back Jordan Hopgood will be suspended for the Falcons' first game, which is Sept. 1 at Florida. Click here to read the details.
2. I've put together a story for Friday's Blade about the place-kicking situation. Here's the status of the main special teams units, according to coach Dave Clawson:
"I would say three of the four major decisions have been made," Clawson said. "Obviously Brian Schmiedebusch is our punter, and Corey Johnson is our long-snapper. Anthony Farinella will handle kickoff duties, and there continues to be a battle between Stephen Stein and Tyler Tate for the PAT-field goal job. We'll let that play out."
I asked Clawson how he came to the decision that Farinella, a freshman signed in February, would be the kickoff specialist, and he said, "He kicks it further than the other guys. That's not one of those [deep] evaluations. We've done enough kickoff drills, and when he's up he kicks the ball longer, higher and further."
3. At the end of practice both Wednesday and Thursday the Falcon coaches sent the first- and second-team players to do conditioning drills while working with the third teamers on some drills, then some formations and scrimmage work.
That's similar to what the Falcons did after Saturday's scrimmage: BG focused on the first- and second-teamers, then dismissed them for other work while scrimmaging just the third-teamers.
"I told our 'threes' and red-shirts that our priority right now is to win in 2012," Clawson said. "But we never lose sight of the fact that we want to develop the players in the program so that we're good in 2013, '14 and '15, too. So at the end of every third practice we keep those units out here, and we go through a separate individual [drill], a separate [skeleton] and pass-rush and a separate game, so we never lose sight of the fact that these guys are the future of the program. That's going to give us our next Alex Huettel, our next Fahn Cooper, our next Gabe Martin and our next Paul Swan and Ryland Ward.
"We think we have a very good freshman class, and we want to continue to develop those guys. The payoff for doing this may not show up until 2015, but that's OK."
If you don't recognize the connection between the names Clawson listed, those are all players who in the past couple of seasons (or in the case of Huettel and Cooper, THIS season ) saw extensive action as redshirt freshmen.
4. A little bit of trickery that I didn't notice right away on the practice field. The "play" clock -- the clock that forces a team to run a play in a specified amount of time -- was set at 35 seconds on Thursday. Normally it is set at 40 seconds (except in certain instances). I didn't see the Falcons struggle with the five fewer seconds, so hopefully that bodes well when BG travels to the hostile environs of "The Swamp" next week.