Saturday scrimmage report

Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron held the second scrimmage of spring football today in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Read about it inside.

On a bright, beautiful day perfect for football, Coach Ed Orgeron held the second full scrimmage of spring football in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium today.

Yesterday, Coach O mentioned the goal of the scrimamge was to "let 'em play." He did just that, with very few holds barred except the defense did not blitz much.

"It was a beautiful day and we got some quality work in," began O's assessment. "My first impressions without having seen the film was that both sides of the ball got some things accomplished today. As I have been saying all spring, our run game is getting better. We are tougher and TB BenJarvus Green-Ellis gives us another dimension in the backfield. I also like having Robert Lane at TE where he can make some big plays and we can use his skills.

"We also made some big plays on defense, we jarred the ball loose some and we had some negative yardage plays."

O said the running game improvement starts with the new situation on the offensive line and is given a huge boost by Green-Ellis.

"I think our power schemes and double-team schemes have helped our cause. We are also way more aggressive up front. We are already tougher than we've been," he continued. "Then you add in BenJarvus, who runs with good leverage, has experience and is able to run around you, through you or over you, and it makes everything better in the run game. He's gifted. He still ahs to prove it on Saturday, but we like what we see so far."

The second team offense got a pleasant surprise in the running game as well. With TB Mico McSwain out with an injury, backup TB Hiram White coughed up the ball a couple of times. Enter converted QB Bruce Hall, who showed he can be an effective tailback.

"We saw Bruce's running skills at quarterback and decided to give him a shot at tailback. He didn't disappoint us. Today was his first contact at that position," Coach O noted. "He's tough and a good athlete. He's solid and can help us there. He seems to have good instincts for the position and runs hard. I was impressed for his first effort there."

From day one of spring through today, Coach O listed - off the top of his head - where he has seen marked improvement.

"I think DT Hayward Howard has made excellent strides. LB Antonio Turner, for no more than he has played there, is doing a good job and is very physical. CB Nate Banks has regained his starting position and appears to be doing some good things," he stated. "On the OL, Michael Oher, Andrew Wicker and Darryl Harris are doing a very good job in terms of their improvement. Robert Lane is making a lot of plays and so is freshman WR Marshay Green.

"We are still unsettled at QB, but Seth Adams is improving and does seem to ahve the best grasp of the offense right now. We are still looking for a backup MLB to emerge and we are wanting Quentin Taylor at WLB to make a jump. Also, our wide receivers have to come on."

Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner was not as pleased with the outcome of today's scrimmage as O was, but he took it all in stride.

"I asked the guys to do three things today - take care of the ball, which we didn't; work the snap count well, which we didn't; and show some intensity and to move the ball around, which we did do," he explained. "The first two are my job. I have to do a better job of coaching ball security and working the snap count with more precision. The last one is something the players have to have inside of them. They do.

"We will fix the first to. We have to and we will."

Werner also had high praise for Green-Ellis.

"He can be in the same class and any of the Miami backs I have coached if he continues on this path. He has what you can't coach - he's a North and South runner, he's hard-nosed, he's smart and he has experience," Werner continued. "BenJarvus also has a nose for the goalline. We only had three plays installed for the goalline drill today and we ran 20 plays down there. The defense caught on to what we were going to run. BenJarvus had to make the tough yards on his own and he found a way to do it.

"Overall, the run game, even the younger backs, have been a bright spot for us. It's not a finished product by any means, but we have some punch there if we will keep developing and progressing."

Werner said it is always difficult to gauge a lot of things when you are doing as much system installation as the offense is doing right now.

"We are throwing a lot at them, especially the quarterbacks. We are flooding them now so they will have film of everything to watch this summer and can correct things and work on things on their own," he explained. "Seth Adams has stepped it up and is number one right now at quarterback. Both he and Billy Tapp made some good throws today, but I look for both of them to be much better once we get all of the offense installed and it become more familiar to them."

Our notes from today:

* The number one offensive line remained the same today: LT Michael Oher, LG Andrew Wicker, C Thomas Eckers, RG Maurice Miller, RT Darryl Harris, but the number two OL has changed some through spring. Currently they line up as follows: LT David Traxler, LG Reid Neely, C Corey Actis, RG James McCoy, RT Marcus Cohen. Earlier in the spring, Traxler was number one RT backed up by Neely. Cohen was backing up Oher at LT.

* Senior LG Andrew Wicker has not only moved up to number one on the depth chart at left guard, he has moved up to numbe one deep snapper ahead of FB Seth Michaelson, who was number one earlier in the spring. Andrew has always had a knack for deep snapping, but is finally applying that knack and working on it harder.

* While neither are expected to win the starting job next season, both Seth Adams and Billy Tapp have improved since the scrimmage we attended prior to spring break. Both made crisper throws and seemed to know more of where they were going with the ball.

* Mike Wallace and Carlos Suggs continue to be the number one wide receivers with freshman Marshay Green in the slot when the Rebs go to three-wise sets. Backing up Wallace and Suggs are two big targets - Michael Hicks and Keith Houston.

* On the punt team, the outside gunners are two of the most important positions on that unit. They are the first down the field and are expected to contain any outside returns and to make tackles. Currently, CBs Trumaine McBride and Nate Banks are the number one gunner. Both have experience at those key positions due to having played there last year.

* Some other memebers of the number one punt team include P Rob Park, Garry Pack, Chris Bowers, Wicker, Jason Cook, Keith Houston, Lawrence Lilly, Charles Clark and Rogers Loche, all good athletes who have a combination of movement for coverage and inside bulk for protection.

* One of the better battles up front this spring is DE Peria Jerry against LT Michael Oher. Peria has been getting the better of Michael for most of the spring due to LT being new to Oher, but today the matchup looked to be closer to a draw. Jerry made a few nice plays, but most of the day Oher held his own. The daily confrontation and competition will make both better, and they are already two of the better players on the team. On a bright, beautiful day perfect for football, Coach Ed Orgeron held the second full scrimmage of spring football in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium today.

* It looks as if Will Moseley is going to be a busy man next fall. He's currently the number one placekicker, and was 6-8 in field goals today, the number one kickoff man and the number two punter. RS Frosh Justin Sparks, who is currently backing Moseley at PK, was 6-9 in field goal drills today.

* The kickoff team, for now, is a speed team with a little inside bulk. Mike Wallace, Keith Houston, Nate Banks, Quentin Taylor, B. Brown, LeRon King, Antonio Turner, Terrell Jackson, Hiram White and Charles Clark are currently running with the first kickoff unit.

* Marshay Green, Banks and Wallace are the main return men right now with McSwain out. Green had one kickoff return that showed his elusiveness and his ability to make the right cut in traffic. He returned the KO 40 yards against the number one KO team while getting blocking from the number two KOR squad. He's dangerous.

* The kickoff return team will utilize, for now, Keith Houston, Rogers Loche, Lawrence Lilly, Robert Russell and B. Brown on the first line of blockers, Taylor and Green-Ellis behind them, Pack and Turner behind them and Wallace and Green deep.

* The number one defense consists of: DE Chris Bowers, NT Jeremy Garrett, DT Hayward Howard, DE Peria Jerry, WLB Quentin Taylor, MLB Robert Russell, SLB Garry Pack, SS B. Brown, FS Charles Clark, CB Trumaine McBride and CB Nate Banks. . . On the number two defense, it's DE LeRon King, NT Trey Poole, DT Brandon Jenkins, DE Viciente DeLoach, WLB Antonio Turner, MLB Rogers Loche, SLB Brandon Thomas, FS gary Albury, SS Gary Riggs, CB Terrell Jackson and CB Dustin Mouzon.

* From our perspective, with limited viewing time due to practices being closed most of the time, it's obvious the run game is better this year than last year at this time. Green-Ellis is the real deal. An unsung producer, however, is FB Jason Cook - he leads the way on most running plays and is an effective blocker. Lane's presence at tight end has also made that position much more productive and dangerous. The defensive line is suspect right now, but getting better on a daily basis with Hayward Howard's improvement and Jerry learning the ropes at DE. The LB unit misses Patrick Willis badly, but one could ask 'what LB unit wouldn't miss that talent?' It would be encouraging, however, to see Taylor and Russell step up more though. Antonio Turner is as physical as any linebacker, but he has a lot to learn at this point in the process of changing positions from TB to LB. The secondary is solid and the experience back there is evident, even without Jamarca Sanford in the lineup.

Scrimmage Notes:

* On the first possession of ones against ones, QB Seth Adams hit WR Mike Wallace for a 30-yard gain that set up a 28-yard Will Moseley field goal.

* The second team series didn't last very long. LB Antonio Turner nailed TB Hiram White after a short gain. The hit caused the ball to pop in the air and DT Brandon Jenkins landed on the loose ball.

* DE Peria Jerry thwarted the next drive by the one offense with a sack of QB Seth Adams for a 10-yard loss.

* The twos fared better. QB Billy Tapp connected with WR Michael Hicks for a big gain which lodge dthe ball on the defense's 7. TB Bruce Hall got the first six yards on two toes and then Tapp scored on a QB sneak.

* The one offense then came up short after methodically driving down the field via a pass from Adams to Lane that placed the ball on the defense's 6-yard line. From there, it was all defense. Brandon Jenkins, who starts on the goalline defense, stuffed Green-Ellis for a 2-yard loss and then B. Brown picked off an Adams pass in the end zone.

* On the next possession by the twos, TB Bruce Hall rambled 30 yards for a score on the first plat of the drive. Orgeron kept the same unit on the field and Hall scored again from short yardage after doing most of the damage to get the ball inside the five.

* On the ones next try, Jerry and Howard combined to stop Green-Ellis short of the first down marker on a third-and-three play.

* The next time the ones got a shot, the offense would not be denied. Adams found Lane alone over the middle for a 35-yard gain and then Green-Ellis ripped off 18 yards on a run and another 13 on a screen pass reception. Green-Ellis then got a tough seven yards to the 7 and took it over from there by running through two defenders at the goalline.

* When the twos took the field, Tapp connected with TE Jason Hawkins for a 20-yard gain, but the drive stalled behind solid defensive work from Turner, Jenkins and Loche, who all made plays to stifle the offense.

* In the goalline drills, the action was hot and heavy. . . Here are the highlights: Quentin Taylor hit Green-Ellis in the backfield for a two-yard loss, but Green-Ellis followed up with a 6-yard burst for a score. . . Pack sacked Adams for a 10-yard loss, but then Green-Ellis bulled over from five yards out for another score. . . The two offense could not score in four tries. They were thwarted by Turner, Trey Poole, Charles Clark and Brandon Jenkins on successive plays. . . Green-Ellis took two cracks to score versus the one defense from the five yard line. . . TB Bruce Hall score from the 1 on the fourth try by the number two offense after solid play for three plays by the two defense. . . The goalline work was done with three tight ends in the lineup - Lilly and Hough in tight and Lane going in motion.

Some notable people who attended practice were; New Hoops Coach Andy Kennedy, former players Von Hutchins, Ronnie Heard, Eric Oliver and Bobby Harris, and signees John Jerry, Cecil Frison and Cassius Vaughn.

The Rebs will return to practice Monday in a full pad workout.

We will publish a photo gallery from today's scrimmage in the morning.

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