Practice Report

The Tigers were back on the practice fields at the Ponderosa on Wednesday as the coaches put them through their next to last workout prior to spring break. David Helman paid close attention to the offensive linemen and linebackers while Sonny Shipp kept an eye on the other positions.

The media was allowed to watch three periods which equaled about 17 minutes and here are some notes and observations from the day's action.

The squad was dressed out in helmet and shoulder pads only but is expected to be in full pads tomorrow when they go through a 60-70 play scrimmage.

As I posted on the message board from the practice fields, Ryan Perrilloux was not at practice in the time period we were allowed in. I spent half the time watching the quarterbacks throw various routes which included a skinny post, a 10-yard curl, a 12-yard out and tosses to the running backs to name a few.

It was only my first practice of the spring but based on what I saw today Jarrett Lee looks to be physically ahead of Andrew Hatch as far as throwing the ball but whether or not he can make the checks and manage the game remains to be seen.

Lee has a smooth, easy release and the ball whips out of his hand when he throws it. He had nice velocity on the short to intermediate throws but was inconsistent from what I saw when he threw some deeper balls because he didn't step into his throws and tended to use too much arm.

Hatch looked a little more fluid with his drops and appeared to be a little more comfortable from the way he carried himself while Lee was either a little tense or extremely focused. After watching a few more practices I should be able to tell but I have a feeling it's Lee trying to get used to the speed of the game and absorb every little detail like he reportedly did when working his dad over all of those years.

The first three wide receivers were Demetrius Byrd, Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver with Ricky Dixon and Chris Mitchell alternating for the fourth spot.

Byrd looks a little bigger than he was during his junior season and you can tell the coaches are preparing him to be the go-to guy. D.J. McCarthy did a good job of making sure the receivers were sticking their feet in the ground and getting out of their breaks coming back to the ball instead of waiting on the ball to get to them.

The one thing I did notice about Dixon is that he looked a couple of steps slower than the other receivers and that has been the thing that has kept him off the field in the early part of his career.

Jarvis Jones seems to be in good position for the open tackle spot battling Joseph Barksdale while Josh Dworaczyk was getting some praise for his actions. Coach Studrawa was happy with each player's various drills. Lyle Hitt's footwork in drills was good enough for an encore performance in some action on the sled where coach Stud made a point to single him out and make him show the others how the drill was supposed to be done. Stud told the linemen that Hitt's footwork and inside hand placement was the standard for what he wanted to see.

Studrawa stressed leverage to the lineman gathered around him and it was no surprise that Herman Johnson had little problem driving his man off the line. But the coaches really emphasized that leverage was crucial to the smaller linemen. At one point, tackle Ciron Black drove his man backward into the tackling sled behind him, causing both players to fall over. The players laughed and the coaches looked incredulous.

Charles Alexander was doing some things with the defensive linemen but he didn't do a whole lot as he was dressed only in shorts and a helmet while the rest of the squad was also in shoulder pads.

The defensive line is so deep with Tyson Jackson, Kirston Pittman, Tremaine Johnson, and Rahim Alem at end, and then Al Woods, Marlon Favorite, Drake Nevis, Ricky Jean-Francois, and Alexander inside.

The D-linemen mostly did drills split up with an outside edge guy and one inside tackle so it was tough to see who was running with who and with that deep of a unit it doesn't really matter right now because they will all play a significant role next year.

Linebackers worked out with the defensive line, as the Tigers look to replace Ali Highsmith and Luke Sanders. Returning starter Darry Beckwith spent time at outside linebacker, with Kelvin Sheppard playing in the middle. On the left side, Ace Foyil split snaps with incoming freshman Kellen Theriot. The focus of the drills was for the linebackers to find the ball in the shuffle of the lines and make the right read. Theriot spent a lot of his time listening to critiques from the coaches, while Sheppard did not share snaps with anyone.

Watching and listening to Doug Mallory coach the defensive backs was a treat because it's easy to see why he has such a good reputation for being technically sound and knowing his X's and O's.

Jai Eugene and Chris Hawkins are still running with the 1's at corner while Curtis Taylor and Harry Coleman are manning the free and strong safety spots, respectively.

Danny McCray was working at nickel and Chad Jones at dime as Mallory spent a good bit of time working with them on reading the slot guy and recognizing what coverage they needed to be in when there was motion by the wide outs.

The Tigers will get after it again tomorrow before taking off for spring break and TigerSportsDigest.com will bring you more notes on how the guys look at the midway point of the spring.


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