Practice Report 17 - Polishing Up

Wednesday afternoon's practice was scheduled to be in full pads, but head coach Les Miles and his staff must be pretty happy with the progress of the squad because the Cowboys went in helmets, shoulder pads and short in the two and a half hour afternoon practice. It was the Cowboys' second practice of the day. The practice also moved to the hedge field where the grass surface and a nice breeze combined to make it seem cooler.

One drill we've failed to tell you about is called "Cowboy." Before the squad gets into the contact portion of practice the team gets together in one area, divided by positions and paired up. The paired players take turns striking an initial blow and driving the opposing player. It's just kind of a contact loosening drill. Thought you might want to know.

We spent a lot of time watching the defense during individual and exchange periods and learned that defensive line coach Carey Bailey believes in using a lot of players on the defensive line, just like defensive coordinator Bill Clay. Watching the defensive line go through various situations, a lot of players drew assignments. At tackle, Clay Coe, Brad Girtman, Xavier Lawson-Kennedy, Efe Mowarin, Darnell Smith, Cody Townsend and Walter Thomas took turns. At end, Trumain Carroll, Jerry Don Bray, Marque Fountain, Nathan Peterson, Maurice Cummings and Darrell Franklin were all involved.

The secondary was also drilling against certain situations, working on blitzes and coverages. Grant Jones was especailly active. Pagitte McGee was playing the pass well as were safeties Thomas Wright and Jon Holland.

In the first team period the emphasis was on the running game with Vernand Morency seeming to get an increased amount of work. The contact was limited to the line of scrimmage and holding up ball carriers.

The offense did come back and work extensively on the passing game later in the practice, mainly against a scout defense. Chuck Moller was testing his offensive linemen on pass coverage calls, while all three quarterbacks – Donovan Woods, Jamie Beeghley and Al Pena – threw a bunch. On the receiving end, some of the other receivers got a lot of work including Eric Allen, Phillip Jones and Kenny Williams. Freshman tight end Brandon Pettigrew also got a lot of reps with the first team.

"I really like Brandon Pettigrew," said Miles. "He is going to be a very good player, and he is already risen to being one of the top players in this new class."

Pettigrew does catch the ball and run with it after the reception as well as any young Cowboy tight end since maybe Alonzo Mayes.

The practice ended with a stiff conditioning period. Tonight there are meetings, a walk through and snack before lights out. Lifting and meetings are scheduled for the morning before the 3:30 p.m. afternoon practice in which there will be another 40-50 play scrimmage. All practices are closed to the general public.

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