Note: David Helman watched over the offense while Jeremy Kenny was with the defense.
Thursday was a day of adjustment for the entire offense, as the guys got ready for an entirely different type of practice tomorrow.
Tyler Edwards’ was still practicing at fullback as the Ouachita product spent his entire day with the offensive backfield, and looked massive in comparison to his new colleagues. The coaches once again spent a good deal of time coaching Edwards on positioning and blocking.
The offense got to do some of its first full-contact work when the tailbacks started working on blocking assignments.
Stevan Ridley and Steele Hull were used as first unit tailback and fullback respectively, as each of them picked up blocks against a blitzing linebacker. Ridley was doing some serious popping with his helmet and looked very comfortable taking on the blitzers considering the drill. August Mangin and Orlando Gunn each got their chance to go, but no one else looked as good (and mean) as Ridley. Edwards got his chance to go and understandably looked a little confused, missing both of his blocks in the first go-round.
The offensive line spent the entire session working on positioning and details such as that. When the team practices inside the O-line moves across the facility where the media can’t get to them, and the entire unit refrained from any contact drills.
Things did not go particularly well for the wide receivers. Coach McCarthy spent his afternoon correcting the route running, stance, and mechanics of the entire corps. After strip drills, the guys got going by running out-routes with Jordan Jefferson and T.C. McCartney throwing the ball. Tim Molton and Deangelo Peterson got the first sets of reps, with McCarthy barking out “straighten that stance up, this ain’t high school no more.”
Many of the receivers weren’t squaring themselves properly on the out-routes, and McCarthy was there to remind them “Don’t lean! Stay square or you’re going to hurt your ankle.” Jhyryn Taylor illustrated that point when he came out of his turn oddly and tweaked his ankle after the catch. Taylor turned out to be alright and returned to drills.
The drill moved to button-hooks, and McCarthy was getting on his guys about keeping their hands away from their bodies, and accelerating once they got the ball into their hands. Deangelo Peterson got it especially hard as he tailed off early and stood for about a second waiting for the pass to arrive. McCarthy was not happy, saying “Finish that route Deangelo! Don’t sit and wait on a pass like that or it’s going the other way for six! We don’t turn the ball over at the wide receiver position.”
The receivers eventually moved onto some new drills. McCarthy had them line up single-file and run a straight line as he lofted a ball directly overhead from behind them. The object was to find the ball without knowing where it was, and pull it in. The guys pulled it off fairly well, although Peterson caught a little more grief for turning his shoulders to the ball rather than just his head.
The next drill was similar, except the receivers were to run straight at McCarthy while he rifled the ball into their hands. This went off surprisingly well, despite the rough beginning that the majority of the receivers had.
Aside from working extensively with the receivers, Jefferson got some work in with the backfield. The new No. 9 was quite accurate with most of his passes, although the receivers didn’t run any routes longer than about 12 yards. Jefferson also worked in the I-Formation and helped Edwards get some experience as a lead blocker.
As the media session ended, both quarterbacks were practicing shotgun handoffs with Ridley and Gunn. Jefferson looks immediately comfortable any time he’s put in the shotgun formation, as that was his preferred formation in high school.
On the defensive side there were no players missing from practice today. Defensive end Chancey Aghayere was not dressed out and watched drills from the side. Sidell Corley was at practice and fully dressed but did not participate in all of the drills.
To begin today’s practice the three groups split up again to work on stripping the ball away from the ball carrier.
The defensive backs added a little more to what was done in the morning practice with the drill as Coach Mallory had the guys come over the top and hammer the ball loose as well as punch it out from the bottom. He also had them engage the ball carrier head on like they were going in for a tackle, and then grab the point of the ball and rip it away from the ball carrier.
After they finished those drills the cornerbacks and safeties were split up again. The safeties continued working on their deep coverage reads, while the corners worked again on controlling the receiver off the line.
Today the cornerbacks traded partners as Patrick Peterson paired with Ryan St. Julien while Brandon Taylor paired with Derrick Bryant. And just as he did to Taylor yesterday, Peterson managed to get by St. Julien on one rep without being touched. However, St. Julien later returned the favor by juking Peterson off the line. Both times assistant coach Corey Raymond told the defender to keep his head down and focused on the receiver’s hips.
The defensive backs came back together one more time to work on communications in nickel packages. Again the media only got to see the left side of the secondary in this formation, which was Brandon Taylor at cornerback, Stefoin Francois at safety, and Derrick Bryant at nickel. This could be a sign that Brandon Taylor will now be at left corner with Chris Hawkins and Phelon Jones, while Patrick Peterson will be at right corner with Jai Eugene and Ron Brooks.
On the defensive line, as mentioned Aghayere was not dressed for today’s practice. However, that did not stop him from trying to participate. After they finished the ball stripping drills, the defensive line did some more hoop drills to work on agility and foot speed. Aghayere attempted to get in line and perform the drill, but Coach Lane told him to get out. Sidell Corley was participating fully in drills when practice first started, but for at least the last half he just stood on the side and watched the other linemen go through drills.
The rest of the young linemen had a lot of trouble staying on their feet during the agility drills as they slipped trying to make the turn around the large hoop. Lavar Edwards had the most success with the drill as he managed to stay on his feet the whole time in his second rep and exploded around the end of the turn. He continued to be the most impressive looking among the freshmen defensive linemen.
The linebackers went back to hitting the blocking dummies again after finishing their ball stripping drills. Ryan Baker seemed to do much better during this drill, and really all of the drills, today than he did yesterday. The final drill Coach Peveto had the linebackers perform was the same from this morning where they had to shift their feet based on where he pointed the ball, and Baker stood out during this drill as he clearly had quicker and more precise footwork. He would’ve fit in just fine at the morning practice during this drill.
That’s all for this afternoon’s practice. The team will hold their first full squad practice tomorrow morning, and then hold media day in the afternoon. Tigersportsdigest.com will be at both to bring you all the latest.