Day 8: Morning Practice Report

The Tigers were back on the practice fields Monday morning to begin their second two-a-day of fall camp and seventh day of practice overall.

Brett Helms was still absent from today’s practice. Also missing from the practice fields today was Jarrett Lee, Charles Alexander, and Stefoin Francois.


We’ll get more into Lee’s situation later today when we confirm that it is his ankle that kept him out.


Without Lee, Jordan Jefferson was now getting the reps as the second quarterback next to Andrew Hatch. Jefferson did seem to struggle a bit this morning with his timing and accuracy. This was the first time I have watched the young freshman since last Tuesday, but this was not the best day I had seen from him yet.


Many of his passes sailed over, behind, or in front of the receivers. Hatch was unspectacular but solid in what I saw except for when the passes went beyond 20 yards. He won’t wow you with his arm, he does not throw a very pretty ball, and sometimes he makes the receivers work to catch it. But from what I’ve seen from the first few practices, he’s been the most consistent of all the quarterbacks.


The running backs began the morning working on ball security and their other usual drills. Later as they moved over to the quarterbacks, they worked taking handoffs out of the shotgun. The running back would begin lined up behind the quarterback in the pistol formation. The quarterback would then signal the running back in motion to either side of him. Then the ball would be snapped and they would run a simple handoff between the guard and tackle. The running backs went through this drill in the following order: Keiland Williams, Richard Murphy, Charles Scott, Stevan Ridley.


The wide receivers began the morning working with the quarterbacks on a variety of routes, including outs, slants, and posts. There didn’t seem to be many dropped passes this morning that were catchable. In fact I can’t really recall any.


Jhyryn Taylor had the catch of the morning though as he jumped high in the air on an out route and stretched to catch a pass that looked to be well overthrown, then came down with his feet inbounds. After the receivers finished with the quarterbacks, Coach McCarthy took them to work on route running.


They mainly ran what looked to be a post-corner, with another post added in on the end. I’m not sure if this is an actual route the receivers run in the offense or if it was simply a drill for the receivers to work on making breaks and cuts.


Coach Studrawa had the offensive line working on a few different run blocking schemes. The biggest news to take from this morning’s practice was that true freshman Greg Shaw has been moved up to the second team offensive line as Ciron Black’s backup at left tackle. If this move is permanent then that also means Ernest McCoy has been moved over to right tackle to backup Joseph Barksdale.


The defense began its second week camp and second session of two-a-days with some hitting, as the defensive linemen went up against each other.


Al Woods has been a topic of interest on the message boards, and the big guy started off his week as the first to get a real good pop, as he stood up newcomer Chase Clement in the drill’s first rep that drew a loud shot of praise from Joe Robinson.


The entire unit got reps in, with Cordian Hagans facing Lavar Edwards, Jonathan Nixon facing Sidell Corley, Lazarius Levingston against Rahim Alem, Marlon Favorite against Kentravis Aubrey, and Drake Nevis going up against Tyson Jackson.


Tremaine Johnson sat out most of the drill while his headgear was repaired, but got in for the last rep. Kirston Pittman and Ricky Jean-Francois were also in attendance, but sat out. It’s worth noting that neither of the two was in a green jersey, they just weren’t participating.


Speaking of absentees, Charles Alexander was still missing from the practice facility, and safety Stefoin Francois was absent for unknown reasons.


The defensive line also worked on the same drills from last week, but today they were using live bodies instead of sleds and dummies.


It was a change of pace to see the defensive tackles working on breaking blocks against a live player, and Ricky Jean-Francois was going hard at it. Similarly, the defensive ends were working on cutting inside against an offensive tackle, and Rahim Alem was serving as the offensive player. Just like Jean-Francois, Kirston Pittman was not held out of these drills but did not look hindered by any kind of injury.


The secondary got a look at some new drills this morning, with turnovers being the word of the day.


The corners and the safeties lined up in different positions. They backpedaled to a marker on the field, then shifted and sprinted in the opposite direction while an assistant rifled a pass at their chest for them to intercept. The guys were clearly working on jumping routes and there were very few drops.


The order for the cornerbacks was Jai Eugene, Chris Hawkins, Ron Brooks, Patrick Peterson, Phelon Jones, Brandon Taylor, and then Ryan St. Julien. The order for the safeties was Curtis Taylor, Harry Coleman, Danny McCray, Chad Jones, and then Karnell Hatcher.


The linebackers and Coach Peveto did work involving the gaps all morning long. The first drill saw the linebacker using a tackling sled, with the object being to hit the sled hard and fast before shifting over into the gap. Shomari Clemons hit the sled hard enough to draw my attention while I was watching the defensive line; the sound echoed across the entire facility. Ryan Baker also looked quick at this particular drill.


The linebackers continued to work on the same thing from last week, but began working with a tackling dummy and a live player instead of a tackling sled. The object was to bypass the tackling dummy and stand up the offensive tackle, who was engaged in blocking the dummy.


Coach Peveto was in charge of the drill, but Les Miles intervened, which as I’ve said before is a rare occasion. Miles seemed really fired up about what was going on, perhaps because he played on the offensive line.


I could overhear bits and pieces of what he was saying, and it was all about explosiveness. “This tackle is 300 pounds, and he’s busy with the D tackle,” Miles said. “If he’s got all his weight shifted over here, all 300 pounds of it, you come in and knock him on his rear!” Well, he didn’t say rear but you can imagine the word that was used.


That just about did it for the defense, but as we left the practice facility we got our first glimpse of the Tigers’ punting game.


Brady Dalfrey was taking snaps from a machine at the goal line. He stepped up to about the three-yard line and booted it to about the 45 or 50. The punts had a decent amount of hang time and it seemed like he was working on his placement.


Josh Jasper was also participating in the drill and neither he nor Dalfrey were consistent. It seemed as if one punt would have some good distance and hang time but then the next would be considerably lower and shorter.


Granted we didn’t see but about eight kicks from both but that is what we saw out of the eight.


Practice starts up again at 4 this afternoon and we’ll be there to bring you more from the Ponderosa.

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