On the offensive side, the only player missing from practice was once again Brett Helms. Colt David was at practice watching on the side with the rest of the kickers this morning but he was dressed in shorts and no pads while everyone else was in full pads. Jacob Cutrera joined the list of missing players on defense to go with Darry Beckwith, Stefoin Francois and Charles Alexander. Ace Foyil was on the sidelines but not dressed out.
Jarrett Lee was back with the quarterbacks this morning wearing a brace on his left ankle. He went through all the drills this morning without laboring or showing any sign of injury. He was moving around and putting weight on that ankle just fine.
Despite missing the first three practices this week, Lee looked the sharpest of all the quarterbacks this morning. Andrew Hatch and Jordan Jefferson both looked pretty good this morning as well, but they each had a few passes that were either behind or over the receivers. It did appear though that Jefferson fixed whatever problems he was having with his release yesterday as all of his balls this morning had a nice, tight spiral.
The receivers ran their normal short, crossing and slant routes this morning. They also added is a few swing and screen routes behind the line of scrimmage. They also ran about a 25 yard corner route. Coach McCarthy had to get on a few players throughout the morning for cutting their routes short.
The offensive line was working on their run blocking again this morning. They worked a lot on one drill where the guards would push up field with the center and chip the man the center was blocking, then flare out and take on another defender. It was interesting to note that walk-on Richard Dugas, who is listed as a center on the roster, was running with the second team at right guard. Josh Dworacyzk was at practice and fully dressed out but watching from the side as Dugas ran in his normal place during drills.
At running back, a lot have people have been asking about Keiland Williams and why he seems to be running behind Charles Scott and Richard Murphy. Well this morning Williams was going first through all the running back drills, which once again illustrates that it’s impossible to try and draw conclusions about the depth chart at this position based on how they go through practice. Towards the end of practice T.C. McCartney and Jordan Jefferson were sent over to the running backs to work on running the option.
The defense had a slightly different look this morning in light of some recent injuries.
As mentioned earlier, Cutrera joined the list of missing players on defense to go with Beckwith, Francois and Alexander. On a better note, though, Chancey Aghayere, who was in a green non-contact jersey, participated in every drill we saw which is something he has not done since Monday.
The secondary started off the day with some good, old fashioned popping, or should I say “thudding”, which is when they wrap up but don’t take anyone to the ground.
Harry Coleman served as a makeshift wide receiver while a safety and a corner lined up on defense. In this formation, one of the safeties took a pitch from Coach Mallory and ran a sweep upfield. Coleman took the safety out of the play, while the corner had to make the tackle on the charging ball carrier.
Jai Eugene got the first look against Curtis Taylor; the senior safety put a juke on Eugene to start things off, but Eugene recovered on the next go-round and made a nice wrap-up. In general the corners were not making good contact. Chris Hawkins, Ryan St. Julien, and Ron Brooks all had pretty bad looking whiffs on the drill, but Coach Mallory made them each go until they made the tackle.
Perhaps the highlight of the drill was when Curtis Taylor volunteered to run the ball against Brandon Taylor. The older of the two brothers came around the corner at full steam, but Brandon was still able to make good contact. Just when it looked like little brother had the tackle, Curtis made a beautiful spin move and escaped, and it was obvious from his celebrating how proud of himself he was. Brandon got another shot against a non-relative, and made the tackle against Danny McCray.
As has been the case with the linebackers for much of the fall, Coach Peveto’s focus was on the scheme.
The linebackers did not run many actual drills while the media was there, but instead focused on lining up properly and switching formations.
Shomari Clemons got some work at the middle linebacker spot in Beckwith and Cutrera’s absence, while Kelvin Sheppard and Perry Riley retained their jobs on the outside. There was some shuffling going on, though, because Sheppard also moved to the middle while Riley switched out a few times with Kellen Theriot.
The defensive line spent the morning with the sleds.
The defensive tackles lined up on the far side of the endzone and began driving toward the center, while the ends lined up at the other endzone and also drove to the center. Ricky Jean-Francois was leading the defensive tackles down the field all day today.
Kirston Pittman and Tyson Jackson will be the obvious starting defensive ends this season, but who will be the primary reserves? It seemed the coaches were giving extra work to Rahim Alem, Tremaine Johnson, and Sidell Corley.
Curtis Taylor continued to entertain as the secondary lined up for one more batch of hitting drills towards the end of our session. Across from Taylor was Jai Eugene, and once again, Taylor began trash talking the corner, saying “We gonna kill you boy!” The senior lived up to his talk and put a big lick on Eugene before letting go. Harry Coleman went behind Taylor, with Hawkins after him and Chad Jones third.
When Chad Moody’s turn came, the junior was juked by Phelon Jones, and right after that Bo Aycock was juked by Brandon Taylor. As the pair stood in disbelief, Curtis Taylor joked, “May God have mercy on y’all’s souls man.”
That’s all for the morning session but practice starts back up at 4:10 this afternoon and we’ll have more for you then.