Note: Sonny Shipp focused on the offense while David Helman watched the defense for today’s session.
The media was allowed to watch only three periods which equated to 13 minutes and there were several key players missing due to class and other school conflicts.
The players were dressed out in helmets and shorts with no shoulder pads which tells you that the staff was focusing more on teaching fundamentals.
The quarterbacks and receivers looked to be in tune with each other in the drills we saw.
Wide receivers coach D.J. McCarthy was doing a lot of instructing to his guys and was playing a defender for two sessions as they worked on breaking off their routes either to the inside or to the outside depending on where the defender was.
On the inside routes, D.J. could be heard telling them to smash the inside route and then to get vertical and not drift on the outside.
Another area of emphasis for the wide outs was catching the ball clean and working on secondary releases when the defender was not playing press coverage.
Jarrett Lee continued to put the ball on the money and from watching he and Andrew Hatch throw the ball one wouldn’t think they were neck-and-neck right now but we all know there is much more to playing quarterback than just slinging the rock.
Mitch Joseph looks the part of a big blocking tight end as he has filled out some and we saw that group working on some 5-yard curls before the offensive tackles joined them and they worked on double-teaming the ends.
It’s always fun to listen to offensive line coach Greg Studawara in action as he is one of the most vocal coaches out there and he is always barking at his boys.
The linemen never worked as a unit but judging by how they went in the drills it appears that Joseph Barksdale is running with the 1’s at right tackle and from what we’ve seen this spring it looks like he would be the starter if Appalachian State was coming to town this weekend.
The linemen worked on some drive-blocking where they had someone holding a pad in front of them with the object being to stay low and explode.
One particular drill, coach Stud was yelling, “That’s the explosion I want Ernie,” as Earnest McCoy drove his guy downfield.
The defense got to work on many of the drills we reported on last week.
Practice started out with the three defensive units working on taking the correct angles against ball carriers. Coaches were telling players to “take the angle and make the play” and urging the defensive line to hustle through the offensive line.
The first team defense for drills was Tyson Jackson, Al Woods, Ricky Jean-Francois, and Rahim Alem on the defensive line. First team linebackers were Kelvin Sheppard, Darry Beckwith, and Shomari Clemons. In the secondary, Jai Eugene and Chris Hawkins started at corner. Curtis Taylor and Harry Coleman were the starting safeties.
Second team was Lezarius Levingston, Kentravis Aubrey, Drake Nevis, and Tremaine Johnson. Jacob Cutrera led the second team linebackers (although he is still in a green jersey) along with Kellen Theriot and Ace Foyil. The second-team secondary had Phelon Jones and Ron Brooks playing corner, with Chad Jones and Danny McCray playing safety.
The secondary worked on more interception drills. Chris Hawkins made a nice leaping pick for the first team, Phelon Jones made the interception for the second team, and Stefoin Francois made the pick for the third teamers.
The three units split up, with the line heading to the sleds. Today was a no-pads day, so the linemen just drove the sled for a while. The first team line on this drill was from left to right Rahim Alem, Charles Alexander, Ricky Jean-Francois, and Tyson Jackson. The coaches got on Donald Hains about his form and made him get in some extra reps.
Across the field, Drake Nevis and Al Woods were working together with the coaches. It looked like they were learning how to throw off a blocker. The line also worked on breaking blocks.
The linebackers were working on footwork and their hands. The coaches had them doing a drill where they sidestepped over pads and had to catch a ball thrown at them. After they had worked on that the coaches had them doing a similar drill, but the purpose was to pick up rolling fumbles instead of catching interceptions.
The secondary was working on a drill that taught the corners how to force a runner away from the corner and inside. The drill was mostly intended for cornerbacks and the safeties just watched. Jai Eugene did particularly well on this one.
That is all for today but the Tigers will get back it again tomorrow and TigerSportsDigest.com will be there to bring you the news.