Note: David Helman watched the offense once again, while Jeremy Kenny stuck with the defense.
This afternoon’s session began with the entire team (excluding quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and TC McCartney) running blocking drills. The offensive line was digging in against each other in one-on-one situations, as were the running backs and wide receivers.
With the O-line practicing so close to the media, two players that really stuck out to me were Alex Hurst and Gregory Shaw. These two already have good size (all things considered) and were pushing their counterparts around at will.
Interestingly enough, Les Miles took charge of these blocking drills, paying particular attention to the running backs and offensive line. Miles generally does not get too vocally involved in the opening sessions of practice, so it was different to see him taking charge for his positional coaches.
With that the groups split up with the backfield going to work with the QBs, the O-line heading off to the far sideline, and wide receivers getting to work on ball security.
As has been the norm all week, Coach McCarthy made sure the receivers knew exactly what he wanted out of them. “If you aren’t protecting the ball, you won’t play,” he said. The guys then proceeded with the strip drills that the older players worked on this morning. Deangelo Peterson managed a strip on Tim Molton, which did not please McCarthy very much.
Speaking of Peterson, the New Orleans native looks very trim and ready to go. He has similar height to Molton, but just looks bigger and more toned.
While the halfbacks and fullbacks worked on their footwork with step overs, Caleb Angelle was getting solo work in a particularly entertaining drill. Two of Angelle’s fellow tight ends stood next to him with long pads that resembled thunder sticks. The object was for Angelle to catch a pass while the ball was swatted at.
The quarterbacks then began throwing swing passes and screen passes to the wide receivers. When Chris Tolliver took a screen pass right and up field, McCarthy got in his face and told him “take that pass straight up field, don’t move outside!”
Jefferson was only throwing a short distance, but his timing on the swing passes was good and his passes had good speed on them coming out of his hand. The focus then moved to buttonhooks. As would be expected, Jefferson’s timing and pace was substantially better than his counterpart TC McCartney’s. The receivers were doing a good job of getting up field after the catch. Peterson was having a good day in this drill, but dropped a well-placed pass from Jefferson much to McCarthy’s chagrin.
The groups then split back up. The receivers went to work with McCarthy; in a similar drill to the DL, they were to watch the movement of the ball, not McCarthy’s audibles for their cue to break off the line.
Meanwhile, the QBs got to work running I-Form misdirection with the tailbacks. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it will be important to get Jefferson some experience under center, as Destrehan ran a lot of its plays offense from the shotgun formation.
On defense the players went through the same initial station drills from this morning’s practice.
The coaches were much more involved with the intricacies of breaking down and wrapping up the ball carriers than they were this morning, asking several players to repeat their reps to make sure they fix even the smallest details.
Along the defensive line, Chase Clement and Chancey Aghayere showed impressive quickness during these drills. Aghayere is also wearing some type of sleeve on the knee he had surgically repaired, but it did not hinder him at all and he showed no signs on being injured. The most impressive looking freshman among the group from a physical standpoint has to be Lavar Edwards. He is the only one that completely blends in when standing next to Kentravis Aubrey and Sidell Corley.
Speaking of Aubrey and Corley, it’s very easy to distinguish them in the drills from the younger players without even watching. There is just a different sound when they hit a pad or make contact with another player. This is undoubtedly a result of them being more comfortable and accustomed to the drills and what the coaches are looking for.
At linebacker, I was very impressed all the way around with Kyle Prater during drills today. He has impressive size for only being a freshman, and displayed impressive quickness during the pursuit drills as well as impressive strength when the linebackers went to hit the blocking sled later on.
Ryan Baker had a little trouble picking things up at practice today as the coaches spent a lot of time working with him after each of his reps. He showed the impressive burst and quickness everyone remembers from his recruiting films. However, I’m sure everyone remembers the big knock on him was his size, and I can see where that knock came from as he is noticeably smaller than Prater at this point.
At defensive back, there has not been a moment yet in three days of practice where there were not a few people watching Patrick Peterson go through drills, and today I became one of those people. The highly anticipated freshmen corner is the talk of the afternoon practices and when you watch him you just feel like you’re watching something special. Peterson is already as big if not bigger than the veteran corners in the morning practices.
As for the rest of the new defensive backs, like David has mentioned before, Brandon Taylor is easily the most impressive looking physically aside from Johnson. Derrick Bryant is about the same size as Taylor, just not as defined. Ryan St. Julien and Karnell Hatcher both have impressive height but both are very lanky and could definitely use a redshirt to gain weight.
After they finished the station drills, the defensive backs again split into cornerback and safety groups. The safeties were Stefoin Francois, Karnell Hatcher, and walk-ons Chad Moody and Bo Aycock, and they worked with Coach Mallory on covering receivers in the flat. The cornerbacks worked in pairs on controlling the receivers off the line of scrimmage.
Peterson was paired with Taylor and Bryant was paired with St. Julien. On one play Peterson was the receiver and put a stutter step move on Taylor, then broke to his left, while Taylor also broke to his left and didn’t lay a finger on Peterson as he ran by. Assistant defensive backs coach Corey Raymond got on Taylor for watching Peterson’s face instead of keeping his head down and focused on his hips.
Coach Miles will be holding a press conference when the afternoon practice session is over. TSD will have a report from his press conference later tonight, and will be back at the practice fields tomorrow morning for the last day of split squad practices.