Note: Jeremy Kenny watched the offensive drills in practice while David Helman observed the defense.
The players in the afternoon were once again in helmets and shorts for practice. Walk-on tight end was the only offensive player missing at today’s practice that was at yesterday’s, and there were no new players at today’s practice.
Yesterday the rain prevented us from being able to see much from the running backs, so that was the first position we watched today. As mentioned yesterday, Stevan Ridley and Tyler Edwards are the only two scholarship players practicing in the afternoon with the running backs. The other running backs in the afternoon include walk-ons Orlando Gunn, Steele Hull, Patrick Lipoma, and August Mangin.
The backs began practice going through their regular footwork pad drills. It’s obvious Tyler Edwards is not very familiar with these drills as he struggled getting his feet down and tripped over the pads a few times, which always drew a smile and joking comment from Coach Porter. Stevan Ridley came to LSU last year as a freshman looking like he was physically ready to see the field, and that has not changed at all heading into 2008. You can tell he’s also embracing a leadership role for the few days when he is the veteran at practice.
Another position we didn’t get a chance to watch very closely yesterday was offensive line, and unfortunately we had a tough time trying to watch them today as they were on the other side of the practice field and usually huddled together in a group. As soon we get a chance to see them fully in action we’ll have the full results on who is practicing with this group and at what position.
Matt Branch and Caleb Angelle were the only two tight ends at this afternoon’s practice, and much like yesterday they spent the majority of the practice listening and learning from Coach Henson. They did spend a little time working with the quarterbacks and catching passes.
The wide receivers today went through drills in the following order for the most part: Jhyryn Taylor, Chris Tolliver, DeAngelo Peterson, Tim Molton, John Williams, and RJ Gillen. They practiced running a variety of routes with the quarterbacks, including hitches, outs, slants, and posts.
The four freshmen had some trouble catching the ball. They fared pretty well with the routes until they got to the post route. Coach Crowton and Coach McCarthy stressed that they wanted the receivers to plant and cut a certain way on this route and the receivers had some trouble getting this step down, and a few of them even slipped or tripped trying to make it. They also had some trouble getting the proper depth and angle on their cuts.
Jordan Jefferson and TC McCartney were the two quarterbacks again this afternoon. Coach Miles had high praise for Jefferson after his first practice yesterday, and I have a feeling he’s going to be pleased with Jefferson’s second day as well. The freshman quarterback threw the ball with good timing and accuracy to the receivers, especially on the slants and hitches. A few of his passes came up short or behind the receiver on the post routes, but that was often because of the receiver running the route incorrectly, and Coach Crowton let him know that he put the ball where it was supposed to be whenever that happened.
For the second day in a row the freshman defenders got to work in the comfort of the indoor facility. In what will likely be a pattern for the rest of the week, the afternoon practice followed a similar routine to the morning session. The coaching staff was still very much stressing the mechanics of the drills, and making sure that each player knew what was happening.
Like the veterans’ practice, things got started with full-unit interception drills. The first 11 was Chase Clement, Kentravis Aubrey, Jonathan Nixon, Sidell Corley, David Impastato, Kyle Prater, Ryan Baker, Patrick Peterson, Stefan Francois, Karnell Hatcher, and Brandon Taylor. Baker switched between the two outside spots while Prater manned the middle spot today.
Karnell Hatcher had the day’s first pick when he made a nice adjustment to an underthrown ball. On the next rep, it looked like we’d see Patrick Peterson’s first action when the grad assistant throwing lofted a ball his way, but he was called off by Hatcher. However, the ball was underthrown again and bounced off the turf in front of Stefoinn Francois. It’s unusual to actually see a ball hit the turf in this drill, so we got to see Francois run in for the “scoop’n score” fumble recovery.
The second unit of the defense was once again working with less than 11 men consisting of Chancey Aghayere, Cordian Hagans, Lavar Edwards, Harold Butcher, Derrick Bryant, Chad Moody, Ryan St. Julien, and Bo Aycock.
St. Julien was at the corner spot nearest the sideline and showed off an impressive vertical en route to his interception. We finally got to see the anticipated freshman show off their mechanics when the groups split into position drills.
The linebackers were practically inaccessible on the far side of the facility, but we could see them working on the usual – footwork and gap assignments. Prater seemed to be in the Mike spot all through the time we were there, while Ryan Baker moved around between snaps.
The young defensive backs seem to show more promise for the present than any other group. They started the day working on their backpedaling. The coaches wanted them to keep their eyes on the ball, then transition and focus only on the receiver as they moved downfield. St. Julien worked with Peterson and Taylor, and needed to be reminded to keep his eyes focused ahead.
Peterson and Taylor spent the entire afternoon as the first DBs in every drill and normally you shouldn’t put much stock into that this early but with these two, I think we can.
The focus shifted to corner routes, where the DBs shifted inside before “bursting out” to cover the corner. They next worked on a footwork drill where the object was to backpedal five yard and then rush back, simulating recovery in run support. Peterson and Taylor went first for all three of the described drills and did not falter in any of them.
The last thing the secondary worked on was jamming at the line, and the players paired up. Peterson and St. Julien worked with each other about three yards away from us. St. Julien’s physique prompted comparisons to Jonathan Zenon from several people, but Peterson overpowered him. Peterson looks like he was trying to make up for missing spring ball this summer; he is absolutely ripped. He and Taylor seem to be substantially ahead of the other youngsters from a physical standpoint as well as athletically from what we see.
The defensive line started their day in the three-point stance. Four guys would line up, and they had to ignore audibles and wait for the ball to move before they exploded out of their stances. Kentravis Aubrey and Chase Clement got most of the first-unit work.
The drill then changed just slightly. The linemen went into their stance over a set of blocking pads, then came up and smacked another pad held by an assistant. Clement and Lavar Edwards lined up on the outside with Chancey Aghayere in the middle. Aghayere received several reminders to keep his eyes up waiting for the snap.
Just like Taylor and Peterson, Clement and Aghayere look fantastic for true freshmen.
Clement is listed as 6’5 256, with Aghayere at 6’4, 270 and both of those measurements look pretty accurate. It may have just been me, but it seemed like the coaching staff was more comfortable with Clement and what they thought he could do. Aghayere was with the second unit all day, and received a good amount of extra coaching on the side.
Practice begins again bright and early tomorrow morning, and as always TSD will be there to cover it. Also, check back in about an hour for video from the afternoon practice along with the few photos we were able to get considering the lighting in the indoor facility.