Wednesday Practice Report: Cignetti's Offense, Big Plays in Secondary

A.J. Black

Changing an offensive system in college football is never easy. But when head coach Steve Addazio was fired and Jeff Hafley and his staff came in they didn't look to complete remove the foundation. Instead new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. looked to build upon what they already had, "we don't ever want to lose the physicality of being able to play power football, he told reporters after practice Wednesday. "But we also have to play wide open and put guys in a position to be successful."

Installing this new gameplan was made even tougher because COVID-19 cut short spring football, only giving the staff and players five practices. But the veteran OC, who spent time in the NFL and various college spots watched his team work hard to learn the new concepts. They met over Zoom during the times at home, and when they got back they got to the real meat and potatoes. "The players and the coaches did a great job teaching the system and then, you know, the work we've had in training camp so far has been invaluable," Cignetti explained.

The bonus for this new coaching staff is that the offense looks to be loaded with talent. In the backfield is David Bailey, a physical runner, solid pass protection, but one that Cignetti sees could be more of a weapon in the passing game. "He's done a great job out there in the passing game." On top of that is the quarterback room, which both Cignetti and Hafley have praised. "Every day they get better on the field and it's great to see. It's so awesome to see these guys every day making progress."

In terms of challenges coming up for Cignetti's offense, one might be how to get all these weapons the touches they deserve. Whether it's Hunter Long, Jaelen Gill, Kobay White or Zay Flowers, there will be plenty of guys that will need to be involved. The offensive scheme will mimic what Cignetti did with the St. Louis Rams and Tavon Austin. "You look at your players first, because you think players first, not plays. And then you make sure you design touches for them, whether it's in the running game, the passing game."

As he continues to build on the offense, the veteran offensive coordinator will continue to push his offense and plan the Eagles attack. "We're always looking at how we can attack a defense and how can we put our players in a position to be successful and how we can run the same plays in different ways."

PRACTICE NOTES: (Please note that practices are closed and these are based on reports from

* During his part of the media availability, center Alec Lindstrom mentioned that Nate Emer, Christian Mahogany and Finn Dirstine were getting time at guard. What was interesting though was that he also mentioned they have been also tried moving Jack Conley at tackle, and pushing Ben Petrula to guard. 

* Couple of names in the secondary had a big day, with Elijah Jones and Jahmin Muse both grabbing interceptions, and Josh DeBerry breaking up a couple of passes

* Shittah Sillah, a name to continue to watch at defensive end, had a sack during team periods. 

* Phil Jurkovec continues to sound impressive in the reports, hitting CJ Lewis, Ethon Williams, and Hunter Long with big gains. Also had the "pass of the day" to tight end Spencer Witter. 

All photos and video courtesy of

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Comments (8)
No. 1-4

Who is the freshman DL that has been making headlines in practice?


I know it is early but I can't help but get excited about this team and the new coaching staff. Not a stretch that we play much better defense than last year combined with a potentially awesome offense. Even better, assuming college football actually gets played this fall, we should get alot of TV exposure with only the P3 playing. Could be a breakout year in a number of ways.


As happens every summer, getting excited about teams chances.
By the day guessing this may be their best chance at finishing top 25...


It sounds like the defense is making strides? Considering the O should be as good if not better than last year, that we’re seeing more plays from the D-like and secondary (without even mentioning Cam Horsley!) is good. Though I am curious if it’s just a matter of the defense being easier to install than the offense, or if the CB’s are just not getting burnt as much!