Day 9 Spring: Practice Report

Under cloudy skies and a crisp wind the Tiger took in another spring practice which again started with the Big Cat Drill.

The drill had a few highlights, like Will Blackwell getting a touchdown block on Barkevious Mingo, Reuben Randle forcing Craig Loston to the ground and Kelvin Shepard disposing of Kellen Theriot. This drill serves its purpose before the team breaks up into units, where TSD was there to analyze each group.

Starting out, the offensive tackles and tight ends worked together to double-team a five technique with the tight end moving on to the second level after the block was secured. The first group on the right side was Alex Hurst and Mitch Joseph, and on the left it was Joseph Barksdale and Deangelo Peterson. The second group on the right was Greg Shaw and Chase Clement, while the left side consisted of Chris Faulk and Tyler Edwards.

The guards and centers worked together on doubling the one and two technique starting with P.J. Lonergan and Will Blackwell followed by T-Bob Hebert and Josh Dworaczyk. Matt Branch was wearing a green non-contact jersey.

The quarterbacks and wide receivers worked together on some easy throws, like the fifteen-yard comeback and the quick slant. 

Since the throws were on the easier side all quarterbacks looked sharp, and it’s nice to know they can make these simple completions. Jordan Jefferson threw the best slants today with good velocity and putting the ball out in front on the lead.

Coach Gonzales was once again stressing the chin tuck on the comeback routes, and he really emphasized getting back towards the football. Once again Reuben Randle looks far out in front, and it’s really not even close. Randle has yet to drop a ball during our allotted time. The sluggishness that was evident last year is no more as he breezes through every drill effortlessly.

While Russell Shepard is coming along nicely, the fourth receiver appears to be Chris Tolliver as he very seldom makes a mistake and cuts as well as anyone. Terrance Toliver was wearing green and still participating, but he was going last and dropping everything. It’s nice to see the effort, but he is going to be doing a lot of sit-ups while trying to catch that ball with a broken hand. John Williams struggled today dropping two catchable passes on easy routes. This is out of character for Williams, because he usually makes the difficult catches.

The tight ends worked with the quarterbacks for a short session of flat, seam and post routes and it appears that Chase Clement is adjusting nicely to catching the football. 

The defensive line welcomed back Josh Downs, and he came back popping at full speed while rotating in on chutes and the sled. All of a sudden the Tigers look pretty good at defensive tackle with Nevis, Downs, Brockers, Levingston, Davenport, and Logan.  They worked on their take off and reads against the trash cans and under the chutes. The ends started out with Montgomery and Ken Adams or Lavar Edwards, as it was different with each drill. Chancey Aghayere was not in attendance.

The linebackers were working on form tackling drills from a distance that allowed the ball carrier to make several moves before contact. Lamin Barrow was wearing green today, but he stood out as a solid form tackler. The starting three of Sheppard, Baker and Francois all got to their man with their hat on the right side - with the exception of Francois juking Baker once. Tahj Jones continues to impress with his quickness to the football and tackling skill.  The next two drills consisted of fighting off low chop blocks and fighting through a fullback block from the backfield. 

The entire defense worked through a new variation of the downhill tackle drill by using lateral movement to move along the line of scrimmage and tackle a ball carrier who had already passed by. Once again the coaches employed the medicine balls to simulate the chop blocks, and they really emphasized the wrap-up and taking down the dummy.

The starting defensive backs were Peterson, Taylor, Eugene, and Claiborne followed by Brooks, Loston, Bryant, and St. Julien. 

These two groups were exceptionally loud and kept talking about how they “feel it today”. Coach Cooper had them working on defending the stop route and turning towards the throw, their pass reads and backpedaling before coming back up field to stop the run. Patrick Peterson continues to impress with his speed and quickness along with Claiborne, and today Derrick Bryant impressed with his quickness. 

They all looked good as coach Cooper instructed them to bite on the stop route and then quickly get back to their zone coverage after the quarterback had progressed. We have also seen the cornerbacks working on their short cover two zone in which they forced the outside receiver to the sideline and kept their eyes forward while drifting back five yards looking into the flats.  

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