Coach Ed Orgeron entered the press gathering after the Rebels' second spring practice today with a smile on his face.
It's early, we know, but thus far, he's liking what he's seeing out of his troops.
"We had a beautiful day today. After watching the film of yesterday's practice last night, we were very pleased with our offensive performance," said Coach O. "Today, the defense stepped it up some.
"We made some improvement on defense - they got after it a little bit today. Guys were starting to fly around and show up. DT Jeremy Garrett had a good day, Daverin Geralds showed up some at nose tackle and Ashlee Palmer did some good things. We moved Kendrick Lewis to safety and he's doing well there too. We are trying him out there and he's making some plays."
Coach O is working with one brand new coach - Defensive Coordinator John Thompson, some realignment - Hugh Freeze at WR, Tony Hughes at TE and Dave Corrao with the LBs, and two new GAs - Brad Villavaso on offense and Chris Kiffin on defense. What is his first impression of those moves?
"They are doing really well. Dave understands our defense and is ahead of the curve right now. He's working very well with Coach Thompson. Coach Thompson brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the staff. He's very well-organized and works hard at it. He stays here late at night watching film and is demanding.
"Brad is doing a great job with Tony at TE and a guy I'm really impressed with is Chris. He brings a lot to our defense. He's young and enthusiastic and is helping (DL Coach) Ryan (Nielsen) out a bunch. And Hugh is doing very well with the wide receivers. We have some work to do in our passing game, as everyone knows, but we like the direction we're going from a staff standpoint in that area."
O said Thompson has his own style, even though some believe they mirror each other in intensity on the practice field.
"He really gets to the guys and gets them to play his style of football. Coach Thompson is intense and an excellent motivator of players," Orgeron stated.
Coach O has been very pleased with the attitude and chemistry of the team.
"It's been fantastic. We are very close-knit. The guys enjoy working and understand the practice tempo. Everything has been fine in that area," he said. "We are working to get everything down on offense in the passing game and find a left guard. On defense, we have to find our identity. We lost our identity in Patrick Willis. We have to find some other guys to step up. But because of the attitude and chemistry of this team, I think all of that will work out. In our third spring, the guys understand the work ethic required and the systems. They have bought in. There are not a lot of surprises out there. We have been around each other so long we understand each other now. That's big."
Orgeron was asked if any players who didn't play much last year have caught his eye in the early going. Sophomore OL Reid Neely came to his mind quickly.
"Reid has had a good offseason and is doing well. TE Robert Hough played a lot last year, but he's showing improvement. MLB Jonathan Cornell is doing well, but he needs to," Orgeron commented.
With four returning starters, plus senior Darryl Harris back, plus the likes of Neely, Thomas Eckers, Mark Jean-Louis and Marcus Cohen, does Orgeron feel the depth on the OL is developing?
"I feel like we've got more than we had," he said. "We are starting to build a line like we want, especially after our signees get here. When you look at Actis, Jerry, Miller, the strongest guy on our team, and Oher as your anchors, you are off to a good start.
"At left guard, we are looking for the best guy available, not any particular type. Just the best guy."
O said Monday in his press conference he was looking for some leadership to surface. Has he seen any of that yet?
"I think it's a little early. We have to go through some things, you know. We have to go through some adversity and some fatigue and we'll see who jumps out and takes over the team," he closed.
Three players aren't practicing this spring. DE Viciente' DeLoach and DL Peria Jerry due to injury and Mico McSwain working on academics.
Orgeron said there will probably not be a full scrimmage until after spring break. College teams are required to practice in shorts three times in the 15 allotted spring practices, but the third one can be anytime during the remaining 13 workouts.
The Rebs are likely to be in full pads next week.
Spring Training: Day 2
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