Coaches had things running at a noticeably quicker tempo, trying to things back in rhythm after breaking this past Tuesday to fly to Washington to be honored by President Bush. Nick Saban seemed determine to get the team back up to full speed in the third day of full-pads workouts, yelling and getting after his players in the manner that practice observers have become accustomed to seeing.
Observers also noticed a few changes to the lineup of players sporting red no-contact jerseys. Jessie Daniels, Jarrod Carter, Cameron Vaughn, Dominic Cooper, Amp Hill and Craig Davis all wore red, with a new edition in running back Alley Broussard. Broussard still went through non-contact drills at full speed. Hill, who is limited due to ongoing recovery from knee surgery that forced him to redshirt the 2003 season, appears to be improving after requiring an ice pack early in the first practice session. Tight end Demetri Robinson worked at full speed after missing the first few practices with a minor foot injury sustained during winter conditioning.
A few more observations from Friday's workout:
- The starting offensive line appears set with returning starters Andrew Whitworth and Ben Wilkerson at left tackle and center. Nate Livings has moved out to right tackle after spending most of the 2003 season at left guard. Terrell McGill and Rudy Niswanger are working at the left and right guard spots respectively.
-Here's a token quarterback update. Marcus Randall continued to look sharp on Friday displaying great accuracy on a variety of routes. JaMarcus Russell struggled during the workout, misfiring on most of his passes during receiving drills. Matt Flynn has adjusted his release a little and it shows. He's dead on when throwing shorter routes and shows improved touch on his deep passes.
-Speaking of quarterbacks, East St. John's Ryan Perriloux attended Friday's session. Perriloux will be one of the nation's most sought-after signal callers in 2005, and there's little doubt he'll be one of the main focuses of the Tiger coaching staff in recruiting. Other practice visitors included class of '04 star recruit Early Doucet, and Marquise Hill, who's preparing for the NFL Draft.
-Skyler Green and Dwayne Bowe worked with the first team offense at the receiver positions. If it's possible, Bowe is even more physically imposing than he appeared last fall. He's added 10-15 pounds of added muscle and could potentially be a match-up nightmare for opposing secondaries. Walk-on wideout Gino Giambelluca is also noticeably bigger. Giambelluca saw significant playing time on special teams in 2003 and could play a bigger role as a gunner next season with the loss of Adrian Mayes.
-Joseph Addai split his time between running back and receiver drills. Addai is a natural pass-catcher, and should fit in well at either position next season.
-Walk-on and former pro baseball player Joe Lawrence is working at safety. With Jessie Daniels missing practice reps with a minor foot injury, Lawrence is getting a good look in the secondary by coaches and could provide valuable depth.
-Newcomer Mario Stevenson continues to impress in DB drills. Stevenson is one of the biggest cornerbacks on the roster and moves very naturally in coverage. If he can the wide variety of coverages employed by Saban and Will Muschamp, look for Stevenson to see significant playing time in 2004.