The Tigers practiced in pads this morning for the first time this spring. The players seemed to really be into the increased physical aspect of practice, which ran smoothly as the team moved through the various drills.
Dominique Hamilton and De'Vion Moore wore the red pull-overs, and participated in the non-contact drills. Kerwin Stricker wore the red jersey, as did Andrew Jones, Elvis Fisher, Terrell Resonno, Brandon Gerau, and Joe Plevel. Marvin Foster stood on the sidelines in street clothes.
During one portion of practice, many of the Tigers' players participated in the Tiger Drill, which is a one-on-one contest in which two players, one offense and one defense, lie on their backs a few yards apart with their heads toward each other. On the whistle, they each scurry to their feet, and the defensive player tries to tackle the ball-carrier before he gets past him. The players seem to really enjoy this drill, and a team score is kept. There are also some big hits delivered, as well.
Derrick Washington and Jarrell Harrison went after it pretty good. Rolandis Woodland posted a win over Kevin Rutland in a pretty physical display by both players. Kip Edwards got up off the ground so quickly that he was able to level L'Damian Washington almost before he got to his feet. Kenronte Walker made the tackle and forced a fumble in his match-up. T.J. Moe got a win against Munir Prince. Tyler Davis made a nice tackle on Jaleel Clark.
With the advent of pads, the work on the running game takes on new meaning. Kendial Lawrence continues to impress. Jimmy Burge made a nice stop on Derrick Washington at the line of scrimmage, as Washington took an inside hand-off from Blaine Gabbert.
Because of the injuries to the starting DTs, we're getting to see the pecking order at the DT position. There appears to be a sequential order to the DT position, rather than a NT/DT designation. Burge is the number three DT, and has moved into the starting spot left temporarily vacant by Resonno. The next guy in the pecking order is Bart Coslet, as he moved into the first string spot when Hamilton stepped aside for the heavier contact drills. The next (#5) DT is currently George White. Brendan Donaldson is the current #6 DT, followed by Chris Earnhardt. Of course, Marvin Foster is not even on the list at this time, as he will likely miss all of spring ball. Reports are that he was one of the top four prior to his injury.
Coaches Kuligowski, Steckel, Ford, and Odom spent one segment of practice working with a large number of players on various aspects of the PAT/FG units. They worked on blocking in protection, and on blocking kicks. There was lots of individual instruction taking place.
Coach Pinkel talked about the first day of full pads practice. "It was good. A lot of hitting, physical. When you get the pads on, it takes a little time to get used to."
During 7-on-7s, Blaine Gabbert found Jerrell Jackson over the middle, in front of Jasper Simmons, for about 20 yards. Then, Gabbert hit Michael Egnew on an out pattern. Blaine Gabbert came right back to Egnew, hitting him in stride on a drag route across the middle. Egnew picked up good yardage after the catch. Later, Blaine Gabbert zipped one out to Jerrell Jackson along the right sideline for a first down. Egnew curled up in the left seam, and Blaine Gabbert hit him right in the numbers. Jerrell Jackson came back with a diving reception of a Blaine Gabbert pass about 20 yards down the middle. Jackson made a difficult catch look easy.
Ashton Glaser hit T.J. Moe on the numbers on a slant, but Moe fumbled when he turned it up the field. Zaviar Gooden was in the middle of that one. Glaser hooked up with Beau Brinkley over the middle for a nice gain. Glaser tried to come back to Brinkley, but Gooden broke on the ball, and had both hands on the ball, but couldn't complete the INT. Later, Glaser overthrew Moe on a deep out. Donovan Bonner came up and knocked Kendial Lawrence off of his feet as he turned it up field following a reception of a pass from Glaser out in the right flat. Lawrence held onto the ball. Glaser hit Woodland out in the right flat, and Rolandis turned it up field with a nice run for a score.
Tyler Gabbert hit Jaleel Clark on a slant from the right side for a modest gain. Nikko Sansone showed some speed and elusiveness on a run around the right side after taking a pitch from Tyler Gabbert.
James Franklin threaded a nice pass down the right sideline, maybe a little high, but Terry Dennis couldn't corral the ball on his fingertips. Franklin dropped one off to Jordan Levy on a drag route. Franklin missed connection with Chris Willet over the middle. I think Willet went the wrong way. Franklin then forced one into coverage on the left side, and Tyler Crane came up with an interception. Crane's a guy that has been impressive, looks to be ready to contribute.
Simmons made a nice play on a pass break-up on a deep ball thrown by Blaine Gabbert to Woodland. The ball was a little under thrown. Gabbert came back and hit Woodland in the numbers on a curl along the right side.