Day 8: Evening Practice Report

The Tigers caught a break on Monday afternoon as rain forced the second practice of the day inside onto Anderson-Featzel Field.

Brett Helms and Jarrett Lee were once again missing from practice on offense and Alex Russian was at practice but not dressed out. Defensively, Charles Alexander and Stefoin Francois were absent again.


Both Andrew Hatch and Jordan Jefferson looked very good throwing the ball in the afternoon. Jefferson in particular made a large improvement from this morning. The receivers were running a variety of routes including outs, slants, and posts, all of different lengths. Both Hatch and Jefferson were on target throughout the afternoon. In fact I can’t recall an errant pass by either one of them throughout the time we were allowed to watch practice.


Later the quarterbacks worked on throwing across their body while rolling to their left. The ball was placed at the 35 yard line. They would receive the snap and roll back towards the left, then lead the receivers into the end zone on a fade route. From where they actually threw the ball to the goal line was about 40 yards. Jefferson looked almost spectacular during this drill as he effortlessly lofted each of his passes into the front left corner of the end zone, perfectly into the receiver’s waiting hands. He clearly outmatched Hatch during this drill, who usually was only able to lead the receivers between the 5-10 yard line.


If the quarterbacks dramatically improved from this morning, the receivers regressed by almost as much as the dropped passes returned. I don’t recall everyone that had drops, but both Trindon Holliday and Jhyryn Taylor had two drops each. Holliday’s were especially bad as both were short passes that hit him squarely in the chest. Tim Molton had the catch of the afternoon practice. He was running a 10 yard out and got to the sideline well before the ball. His momentum was carrying him out of bounds, but he managed to stick one foot in the ground, stretch to catch the ball, and maintain possession before picking that foot up and continuing out.


The tight ends were working on catching the ball in traffic this afternoon. Coach Henson would throw them the ball, and as soon they caught it people standing on both sides of them would start hitting the arms and hands with large pads to try to jar the ball free. Alex Russian was one of the people hitting the players with pads as he was held out of practice again this afternoon.


After they finished their regular drills to start practice, the running backs got to take a break for most of practice as Coach Porter was working with the fullbacks on getting through the hole and clearing a path for whoever was behind them. Quinn Johnson was first during this drill, followed by Charles Scott and Tyler Edwards. It’s obvious Edwards is much more comfortable at his new position after only a week of practice. He no longer looks awkward and unsure when going through drills with the rest of the running backs.


Coach Studrawa had the second team getting most of the reps again in the afternoon practice, except this time they were working on pass blocking instead of run blocking. Greg Shaw was once again lining up as the left tackle with the second team.


Much like the morning practice, the defense began its day with a different look at some of the familiar drills.


Coach Mallory started the defensive backs off with strip drills much like the wide receivers run, except in this version the ball carrier was instructed to fumble, allowing the defender to scoop the loose ball up and score. The defensive backs moved on to another turnover-related drill. This time the “receiver” held the ball up over his shoulder, simulating a catch. The defender’s object was to bat the ball out of the receiver’s hands with the butt of his palm.


The defensive line was working with garbage cans today. Charles Alexander was still absent due to injury, and Chancey Aghayere was in full pads but had no helmet on and was not participating. The line took turns shifting between the garbage cans and rushing to the outside. The drill then shifted to something usually seen at the NFL Combine. The entire defensive line unit took turns weaving in between tackling dummies before rounding the corner and tackling one final dummy.


The linebackers’ afternoon workout was nearly identical to this morning’s. The guys took turns hitting the sled before they moved on to gap assignments. Shomari Clemons once again scared me senseless with the sheer explosion he hit the sled with.


Coach Mallory split up the defensive backs and he went with the safeties. While Mallory was going over the safeties’ assignments, the corners were shifting with their wide receiver counterparts and working on jamming.


Meanwhile, the linebackers broke out something new and started work on defending the option. Two ‘backers would focus in on the quarterback and make sure the play stayed inside the tackle box.  At the same time, the secondary got together and started defending the option as well, only the focus was on the tailback for them. Harry Coleman and Curtis Taylor took turns taking on blocks from wide receivers, which freed the corners to move up and make the tackle on the ball carrier.


It seemed obvious that the defense was going to combine later on in the practice and work on this, but the media session ended before we got to see that.


Two-a-days continue tomorrow at 9 a.m. and will be there once again to fill you in on the action.

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