Note: Jeremy Kenny focused on the offense and David Helman keyed in on the defense.
There were numerous players missing on the offensive side of the ball including Brett Helms, Josh Dworacyzk, Jarrett Lee, and Matt Branch. On the defensive side, Darry Beckwith is still in his green non-contact jersey, while Jacob Cutrera was once again missing. Stefoin Francois and Charles Alexander continued their lengthy absences from practice.
It is unknown why Lee missed today’s practice. There were rumors of Andrew Hatch being injured following Saturday’s scrimmage, but he was practicing fully today.
The quarterbacks spent most of practice working on goaline passes with the wide receivers. They especially worked on fade routes, where the wide receiver had to read the defensive back off the line and then either stay straight or break to the corner based on how the defensive back was playing him.
Both Hatch and Jordan Jefferson had a little trouble with this at first but Coach Crowton made a few quick adjustments and the both placed the ball perfectly after that. After they finished this, Hatch was sent down with the running backs while Jefferson stayed with the receivers and threw outs and slants in the end zone.
Coach Studrawa had the offensive line working on run blocking with the guards taking turns pulling every other rep. With Brett Helms still missing from practice, Ryan Miller continued to run with the first team at center. Walk-on Richard Dugas took Dworacyzk’s spot as the second team right guard. Greg Shaw and walk-on Trey Helms split reps as the second team left tackle.
The wide receivers spent the majority of practice with the quarterbacks working on short yardage routes in the endzone following the fade routes. All of the guys did a very good job of getting their feet down on the fade routes, and most of them usually got both feet down. I also don’t recall seeing any drops this afternoon.
Demetrius Byrd was going through practice like normal but he did appear to be hobbling slightly during his routes, and he was wearing a sleeve on his left knee that I had not seen him wear before.
The running backs began practice working on their usual agility and ball security drills. Then for the last half they worked with Hatch on catching the ball out of the backfield. They were mostly lined up in the shotgun on these reps and just ran simple swing routes out to the side.
Once again all of the guys looked very natural running out and receiving the ball. It’s good to know that whoever is in the game at running back will be a reliable safety valve for the young quarterbacks to fall back on whenever needed this year.
On the defensive side of the ball, I was thrown for a bit of a loop at first because Kirston Pittman was missing from drills, but it turned out his helmet was broken and he needed it to be fixed. He returned to practice shortly after full-unit drills concluded.
The focus of full-team drills was the same as always: cut off the halfback from reaching the corner, square up, and pop the ball carrier’s pads.
The first team unit was comprised of Ricky Jean-Francois, Marlon Favorite, Tyson Jackson, Rahim Alem (as Pittman was fixing his helmet), Beckwith, Kelvin Sheppard, Perry Riley, Curtis Taylor, Harry Coleman, Jai Eugene, and Chris Hawkins.
The second team was Drake Nevis, Al Woods, Lazarius Levingston, and Sidell Corley. Kellen Theriot and Shomari Clemons came in as second-team linebackers while Kyle Prater filled in for Cutrera in the middle. The second-team secondary was Chad Jones, Danny McCray, Patrick Peterson, and Ron Brooks.
The third-team got a chance to go and was comprised of Lavar Edwards, Jonathon Nixon, Cordian Hagans, Chase Clement, David Impastato, Ryan Baker, Harold Butcher, Derrick Bryant, Karnell Hatcher, Brandon Taylor, and Phelon Jones.
Coach Mallory took the defensive backs aside when the three units split up. Rather than backpedaling, the group ran a ‘sit/sprint’ style of drill in which the players had to switch from running full-on into a squat on the coach’s command. Mallory caught Jai Eugene with a false cadence and made the sophomore do the drill again.
The linebackers continued their trend of working on footwork and gap assignments. Just like in team drills, Kyle Prater got a lot of extra work with the second team in Jacob Cutrera’s absence.
The defensive line got to work both on the sleds and with the chute. It was comical to see Kirston Pittman working with the first-teamers, as the senior’s helmet had yet to be repaired and he was working hatless against the tackling sled. Talk about dedication. Following the sled drills, the team gathered at the chute and the younger players held blocking dummies for the older guys as they rushed out of the three-point stance.
After that round of drills the scout teams got called up.
Meanwhile, the D-line and the linebackers got together against the scout team offensive line. Once again the situation was three vs. three and sometimes four vs. four. The first defenders to get reps were Drake Nevis, Ricky Jean-Francois, and Kelvin Sheppard. The defense was once again defending shotgun snaps. Darry Beckwith sat out of these reps as there was hitting going on.
The second team consisted of Lazarius Levingston and Al Woods. Perry Riley worked as one linebacker, and Kyle Prater was once again getting looks as a backup. Woods earned high praises from the coaches when he completely blew the play up.
While that was going on, the secondary worked on option defense. Mallory gave Peterson some extra work, telling the freshman his reaction time was a bit too long but it would come along in time.
That’s all we got to see for today but the team will scrimmage tomorrow and while it’s closed to the media there will be a press conference following the scrimmage with comments from Les Miles.