It was a pretty uneventful practice Saturday in terms of anyone standing out or wowing the coaching staff. Other than a few guys being helped off the field due to muscle cramps, it was a normal workout.
University of Memphis coach Larry Porter was encouraged by his offense on Saturday. The Tigers' offense looked much better in Saturday's practice, and Porter admitted as much. The Tiger receivers beat the secondary in several instances downfield for easy touchdowns.
"I thought it was a better day for the offense. I thought they responded to a challenge today and kind of came together," he said. "We need some confidence offensively in terms of being able to know that we can have explosive plays out there, so it was good to see from that standpoint."
Lonnie Ballentine and Marcus Rucker did not practice Saturday. Ballentine tweaked his hamstring in Friday's practice and sat out Saturday. Porter said the 6-foot-4 corner should be fine. Rucker, who sat out Saturday for "rest," Porter said, will begin practicing again tomorrow.
As I've stated before on this space, it's looking more and more like Andy Summerlin will get the starting nod against Mississippi State on Sept. 1. It's not so much that Summerlin is outperforming Skylar Jones or Taylor Reed. It's just that Jones and Reed look very new to the Tigers' system and, in the Tigers' case, the best option may be to go with the guy who at least understands the scheme.
That's not to say Summerlin hasn't had his struggles, though. He tends to float his deep balls, a tendency that led to an interception Saturday and is sure to lead to more when the season starts.
"We've got to find ways to get those self-inflicted wounds out of our program," Porter said. "Whether it's practice or not, we just cannot do that. We're making a statement about that early." Porter said the freshman Reed, who was expected to challenge Summerlin in fall camp, was "swimming" in terms of getting a playbook thrown at him and being expected to learn and digest an entirely new offense in a matter of weeks.
The offensive line will most likely be one of the Tigers' weakest spots this season, but Porter liked what he saw from them Saturday.
"In terms of our personnel, I really and truly like we what we have. It's just a matter of trying to grow them in terms of chemistry and continuity," he said.
For the record, I was most impressed with D'Angelo McCray, who was converted from defensive lineman this spring.