Note: David Helman covered the offense today and Sonny Shipp had the defense.
The Tigers were dressed out in full pads today and the focus of the day seemed to be on intensity coming from the coaches and the players.
As we got to practice the quarterbacks were the first group we saw and to no one’s surprise there was no Ryan Perrilloux at practice.
Jarrett Lee was working on taking the snap from a shotgun position. The quarterbacks were also working on rolling out and Gary Crowton was telling them to “make sure you are squaring your shoulders for the throw”.
Later on, the quarterbacks were throwing balls to the receivers in the flat.
Receivers coach D.J. McCarthy reminded the receivers that dropped balls behind the line of scrimmage are fumbles. McCarthy then got the receivers into drills that helped with their footwork.
They worked on out-routes today, which they weren’t doing a whole lot last week. Lee threw some really nice balls to Demetrius Byrd and Chris Mitchell. Most of his passes looked really pretty today, with the exception of an overthrow of Ricky Dixon. Andrew Hatch’s spirals didn’t look too tight on the other side of the field.
The highlight of the offensive drills was the fade routes.
Coach McCarthy was teaching the receivers how to time the route so they looked over their shoulder at just the right time. Terrence Tolliver made a fantastic one-handed catch on a nice throw from Hatch, and Hatch also hit Brandon LaFell perfectly in stride.
Lee had no trouble throwing the fade right on target. It seemed like the throws were going about 35-40 yards, and Lee hit Byrd and Dixon right over their shoulders. Chris Mitchell made a great adjustment to a ball that the wind got a hold on and made a nice grab as well.
The final route of the day was a 10-yard curl rote. Lee’s passes were hitting guys right between the numbers and you could hear the ball hitting their hands hard as the passes had good velocity.
It will be interesting to see how he fares on Saturday when he has to read coverages and deal with a pass rush because that will be the telling sign of how much he has come along in his development.
It’s easy to play pitch and catch but when you put all of the other elements into the equation you get a true gauge of where both quarterbacks are in the grand scheme of things.
The tight ends broke off down by the end zone and were working on breaking free for goal line passes. Richard Dickson was back at practice and was sporting his new number 18 jersey. Alex Russian and Mitch Joseph were working with him.
The offensive line got back to work on one-on-one blocking. Ciron Black and Herman Johnson were bulldozing through the blocking lines. Coach Stud was telling the guys to step out and drive their feet. He got excited about T-Bob Hebert’s effort.
Trey Helms and Jarvis Jones also looked great getting out of their stances. Coach got on Josh Dworaczyk because his feet were stopping on contact. He had Trey Helms and Ernest McCoy going against each other at the end of the drill.
The line worked on double teams for a bit. The highlight was watching Ryan Miller and Matt Allen trying to block out Herman Johnson, who was standing in for a defensive lineman. That had to be the biggest defensive lineman I may have ever seen.
The offense got together and started running plays as we left practice. Ryan Miller was working with the first team O-line in Lyle Hitt’s absence, and the second team line was Ernest McCoy, Trey Helms, T-Bob Hebert, Josh Dworaczyk, Jarvis Jones, and Mitch Joseph at tight end.
It was obvious that the coaches on the defensive side of the ball were trying to get their players fired up and they were very vocal in the four periods the media was allowed to watch.
Doug Mallory was doing a lot of instructing and it’s always fun to listen to the defensive backs coach/co-defensive coordinator as he covers every little detail with his guys.
He put his DB’s through some wrapping up drills where they met the ball carrier, wrapped him up and then drove him back three to five yards.
They later worked on stripping the ball out from both sides and Mallory was barking out “finger tip to back tip.” He wanted them get their hand on the ball from the front and rip it or knock it out from the backside.
They also worked on some coverage where they would hit the wide out at about four yards inside the buffer zone and the words of encouragement coming from Mallory was “stay square and then turn laterally.” He wanted them to keep their body square in the back pedal then make the contact to throw the receiver off his route to the outside and then make a sharp quick lateral turn to maintain inside position.
Bradley Dale Peveto was just as vocal with his linebackers and he wanted to see some hitting.
One drill had the linebackers hitting head-on and wrapping up and the only one that wasn’t taking part was Jacob Cutrera. He was dressed out in full pads but only took part in the non-contact drills that we saw.
Peveto later put them through some agility drills that focused on footwork then he had Darry Beckwith and Kelvin Sheppard working on shedding blockers.
Beckwith and Sheppard would line up off the ball and there would be three guys in front of them and based on a call one of them would attack the backer forcing them to use their instincts and shed the blocker.
Peveto kept saying over and over, “I want to see you work. I want to see you work.”
When the defense got together for a little 7-on-7 simulation the starting corners (Jai Eugene and Chris Hawkins) and safeties (Curtis Taylor and Harry Coleman) were the same while the three linebackers were Beckwith, Sheppard and walk-on David Impastato.
Special teams/co-defensive line coach Joe Robinson worked with all three on the side and was paying some special attention to the trio with technique. He wanted to see their butts high and their eyes up with them exploding off the ball and driving the sleds back about five yards.
Kirston Pittman was back in action today and was not wearing a green jersey, and Ricky Jean-Francois was also out there. Charles Alexander was wearing a green jersey but he was not holding anything back from what we could tell.
Lazarius “Pep” Levingston is going to be someone to watch this season because although there is a lot of depth he looks really good and has had a good spring. Lane was giving him plenty of encouragement and praised his effort a few times.
The Tigers will take Wednesday off and will go on Thursday in their last practice of the spring leading up to the spring game.