Coach Ed Orgeron greeted the smattering of media in attendance at this morning's 2-hour, 45-minute practice with a little more optimism than he had exhibited since Saturday's scrimmage.
Even though the Rebs put together good practices the previous two days, Coach O believed the light started to get brighter today.
"There's an old saying taht the cream always rises to the top. Ours is starting to rise," said Coach O. "A lot of players are consistently performing and progressing. Some are not, but they all know now that if you don't give it your all, someone is ready to take your place. A prime example today was freshman DE Lamark Armour. He showed he wants to play. If he keeps that up, he will play.
"Guys like Patrick Willis are having great camps. What I like about Patrick is that he seems frustrated if he doesn't improve with every practice, but for the most part, he does improve. I also think we have some freshmen - like OG Michael Oher and LB Quentin Taylor - who are showing up and making their marks. Our running game is coming together and we have installed some things that are helping the personnel we have - like some naked boots and other things that are working and fit both Micheal Spurlock and Robert Lane. Robert is competing hard now. The race is on. This afternoon's scrimmage will be big as far as the battle for the top QB will end up. (Continuing on Taylor) Quentin got some work with the number ones today at OLB behind Kelvin Robinson. He's going to play a bunch, and he may end up starting. He's explosive, a gifted athlete, he has a knack for the ball and he's quick."
While most of that is the good side, Orgeron does have his concerns. Perhaps one of the biggest is the punting game.
"We are struggling there. We haven't gotten much consistency in that department. We are waiting on one of those guys to take the job," he explained.
* TB Mico McSwain missed practice today due to a death in his family.
* Players who did not practice today, besides McSwain, were: OG David Traxler, C Darryl Harris, DB Bryant Thomas, CB Dustin Mouzon, OT Reid Neely, OL Ryan Jones, CB Josh Braithwaite, WR Milton Collins, WR Matt Pierce, WR J. D. Lawhorn and DE Corvelli Haynes. . . DE Reterio Brown and WR Taye Biddle did not dress out this morning, but are expected to practice this afternoon in full gear. Both are expected to be academically cleared very soon, maybe as early as today. . . TB Alan Abrams was dressed out but had no contact reps today.
* A player who came off the injury list was frosh CB Tyson Andrus. He has not had any contact work to date. Today was his first day and the coaches brought him along slowly.
* The experiment with Jacarious Lucas at DB didn't last long. He's back at wide receiver today after one day in the secondary.
* I listed Taylor as a MLB and frosh Robert Russell as an OLB yesterday and was quickly corrected. I was wrong. Taylor is an OLB and Russell is the backup MLB in a battle with Marquis McBeath for the number two slot. My bad.
* With Traxler out, Andrew Wicker took all number one snaps at left guard today. He must have been doing something correctly because the offense did a pretty good job, overall.
* In a punt block drill, Tyson Andrus, Garry Pack and Jacarious Lucas each blocked kicks.
* The number one line today had Tony Bonds and Ben Boyce alternating at center. As we said, Wicker was at left guard. Tre' Stallings and Bobby Harris were at the tackle slots and Thomas Eckers was at right guard. . . The backup OL consisted of RT Marcus Cohen, RG Michael Oher, C Boyce/Bonds, RG Maurice Miller and RT James McCoy.
* A player who is surfacing more and more in the two-deep is freshman SS Gary Riggs. Secondary Coach Chris Rippon is having to correct him quite a bit, but the kid is making enough plays to get some valuable practice reps.
* As 'O' said, Armour kept getting his name called in a positive way today. He blocked one field goal, had a negative yardage tackle on the opposite side of where he was lined up and registered a QB sack on the day. Very active, very quick.
* In team running game drills, the offense started slowly, but picked up a little steam as the period progressed. . . Jamal Pittman started things off with a gain of 3, but DT Michael Bozeman threw him for a 2-yard loss on the next snap. TB Antonio Turner was stopped at the line by blitzing SS Jamarca Sanford and TB Brandon Jacobs was smothered by CB Travis Johnson on a corner blitz for a 3-yard loss.
When the twos took the field, Turner gained 4 and 15 then TB Kendrick Perry had a run of 6.
When the ones came back for their turn, Spurlock hit WR Mike Espy for 7 yards and WR Carlos Suggs for 8 (it's not strictly run, but mostly in that period). . . Jake then added an 8-yard jaunt and a 3-yard run.
Turner gained 6, but then was stopped for -5 by DT Peria Jerry. MLB Robert Russell stopped Turner at the line, but then TB Hiram White went 50 yards for a score.
* In punt drills, WIll Moseley kicked four times for a 34.5 average. Frosh Rob Park had one punt for 46 yards, but the hang time was not good. That's an area begging for someone to take over.
* In field goal drills, Matt Hinkle - with Park holding - was 4-6, hitting from 28, 25, 25 and 20, but mising from 36 and 29. . . Moseley, also with Park holding, was 2-5, hitting from 40 and 48, but missing from 45, 55 and 20. . . In that drill, Armour blocked one of Hinkle's attempts, but that is not figured in the stats.
* In team passing drills, the offense had moments where it almost looked too easy, even when the Rebel defense was sending an extra player on the blitz. The OL did a good job - today - of picking off the extra rusher, leaving receivers in man coverage.
Highlights of that period were: (Ones) Spurlock to FB Jason Cook for 8, Spur to WR Mario Hill for 15, Larry Kendrick drop, Sanford breaks up 20-yarder intended for WR Carlos SUggs. . . (Twos) Lane to Hill 10, Lane to WR Mike Espy 14, CB Terrell Jackson drops sure interception in flat, Lane to Suggs for 55 and a score. . . (Ones)Spurlock to Jacobs 7, Spur to Suggs 15, Willis pickoff on 25-yard toss overthrown, Spur to Suggs 5. . . (Twos) Flatt to TE Robert Hough 10, Pittman run 12, Flatt to Pitt 5, Flatt incomplete to L.K. under pressure. . . (Ones) Spurlock to TE Jimmy Brooks for 30 with blitz coming, Pittman run 1 stopped by DT Brandon Jenkins (still at DT today), Spur to Hough 16, Spur keeper 7. . . (Twos) Lane sacked by DT Jeremy Garrett -2, Lane to Kendrick 5, Pitt 0 run stopped by Armour, Pittman 7.
* In situational team work (specific downs and distances), it was a see-saw battle between the offense and defense.
Highlights: (Ones) Kendrick drop of Spur pass, screen to Cook 7 with Pack on the stop, another drop by L.K., who had an overall uncharacteristic poor day, Spurlock keep 8. . . (Twos) Lane to Kendrick 15, Laneto Espy 10, incompleted to Kendrick, Lane to Hill 35.
In a 2nd-and-6 situation, the highlights: (Ones) Jake 7, Jake -4 with Bowers making the play, screen to Kendrick for 14, Jake 2 with Willis making the stop, Spur to Espy for 9. . . (Twos) Pittman 5, Lane swing pass to FB Seth Michaelson 9, Lane incomplete under pressure, Lane incomplete.
The final sitaution of the day was set up with the offense having two plays to score from the defense's 40 as the game expired. . . On the one's first try, Bowers sacked Spurlock and the ensuing Hail Mary was incomplete. . . On the two's first try, Lane hit Hill for 16 yards but was then sacked by frosh DE LeRon King coming inside the block from the edge. . . On the one's next attempt, Spurlock found Brooks for 10 and Espy for 28, but he went out on the 2. . . On the two's next attempt, Flatt found TE Lawrence Lilly for 18 and then threw a TD strike to Hough from 22 yards out.
* The Rebs will have a light scrimmage in the stadium this afternoon at 4 p.m. Orgeron said each unit will get "about 36 snaps" if they "get after it."
Practice Report: Wednesday morning
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