The morning started out with all of the position players separated.
Once again, coach Mac had the wide receivers working on protecting the ball after the catch, holding it “high and tight.”
Coach Studrawa had the offensive linemen working on the typical blocking drills. The first team guys were taking a breather for a good bit of the time, giving way for some of the second team guys to showcase their talents. Brett Helms was still missing from practice and Ryan Miller continued to take snaps with the first team line.
From the observations I made, T-Bob Hebert was receiving a fair share of praise from the coaches while working with the second team. His maturation process is coming along very quickly.
The running backs worked on the sleds to get things started, then moved on to running passing routes when the quarterbacks switched to the final station.
After the group workouts, the wide receivers and quarterbacks met up once again to work on short routes.
Coach Mac had cones set up around the ten yard mark, where the receivers worked on planting down and making the cut back to the ball.
I was able to get a closer look at Brandon LaFell today, and he was as impressive as he has been touted to be. He runs a very smooth route, with long strides and much better hands than he displayed in his opening act as a Tiger receiver last season.
He made a few nice grabs that were a bit overthrown, so needless to say I left impressed with his progression thus far with his ability to hold onto the football.
For the second day in a row, though, Hatch looked uncomfortable making the deep throw. He kept a nice spiral on the ball, but it was often a bit under thrown. Lee looked more comfortable once again, throwing some nice balls that were often well in the range of the cones used for the drill.
When working on the deep routes, 43-yard passes according to coach Mac’s cones, Jordan Jefferson was on the money nearly every time.
As things wrapped up, the running backs joined up with the quarterbacks to work on passing out of the backfield.
Coach Porter and coach Crowton had the quarterbacks take the snap out of the I-formation, where the fullback would block for the running back to catch a pass in the flats.
Hatch looked a little more comfortable in the short game, usually putting most of his balls right where the coaches instructed. All of the running backs worked out in the drill, and both Quinn Johnson and Stevan Ridley were used as fullbacks.
Saturday was my first day watching the team in full pads, and it was great to see the defense getting some hits on each other.
The defensive backs started their morning with form tackling. Coach Mallory supervised the drills, which had one DB running to his left with the football, while another ran to his right and wrapped up the ball carrier. Mallory was telling his guys to “use the sideline to your advantage so that the ball carrier can’t outrun you.” He was constantly telling his ball carriers to turn upfield at the corner, and he was telling his tacklers to drive their feet on contact.
It seemed like the guys were having an easy go of it with each other, but Mallory wasn’t having any of that. He started getting after the ball carriers, telling them “Make them miss! Make these guys do some work!” Ron Brooks took the advice, putting a nice juke on Curtis Taylor. Moments later, Ryan St. Julien tried to put a move on Danny McCray, but McCray just tightened his grip and drove the freshman into the ground. There wasn’t any tackling in the drill so it looked like McCray lost his footing but it still drew some “oohs ans ahhs” from the other players.
Coach Peveto was hard at work with the linebackers, as always.
Things didn’t go much differently for the ‘backers, despite the pads. Peveto had them working on footwork and shifting their feet. Then, the guys did some one-on-one hitting, with one guy coming across the line of scrimmage and meeting the ball carrier in the gap. Jacob Cutrera and Darry Beckwith got some extra work taking on double teams, as each linebacker had to bypass a fullback before moving on to the ball carrier.
The defensive line avoided any full-contact, and instead just got to work with the sleds. Charles Alexander is still missing out on practice with what some have said are soft tissue concerns in his knee and others have called it a hamstring, but Les Miles said at Media Day that it was not a substantial injury.
All of the other guys were out there, but they were hitting the sleds by themselves instead of in units. Ricky Jean-Francois was doing his best to obliterate the sled, and Cordian Hagans continues to impress the coaching staff, as he was lauded with praises for his footwork and explosiveness out of the stance.
Across the field, the cornerbacks were working on the backpedaling drills they’ve been working on throughout August, but today they were actually against defensive backs asking like wide receivers.
The corners worked on backpedaling and turning with a receiver running a go route. They then worked on their shuffling skills against a receiver who would make cuts to his left and right across the field. Coach Mallory had the safeties, and seemed to be working on assignments as there weren’t any real drills going on.
Just before the session ended, the entire secondary got together. The drill mixed what each unit had been working on, as the corners would backpedal against receivers, while the safeties dropped back into their respective zones.
The first-team secondary was still Jai Eugene, Curtis Taylor, Harry Coleman, and Chris Hawkins. LSU fans will be interested to know however, that Patrick Peterson is already taking some reps with the second team after just two days in pads.
There is an afternoon practice Saturday at 4:00 before a day off Sunday, and TSD.com will be there to cover all the action.