Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix is looking for one ingredient he has not seen yet, but he thinks it's coming.
"We've been inconsistent, inconsistent," he repeated. "We have to get some guys healthy, but we are going in the right direction and showing signs we have a chance, but we have to get some of these guys back on the field."
Nix has no issues with the learning curve, but executing what they know has been a different story.
"We have some fast learners, but they have to take that on the field and be more consistent with their execution," he continued. "If they will do what they are coached to do more often, which I think they will in the next couple of weeks, we've got a chance."
Nix was asked about the progress of DT Jerrell Powe, who is certainly one of the most talked-about players on the team.
"He has a chance. He has a lot of ability, but he's real rusty. We are just day-by-day with him, one step at a time. Hopefully he'll do better each day and will get himself ready for the season," Tyrone allowed.
Houston Nutt wanted to take a long look at the defensive backs today in the scrimmage. What were Nix's thoughts?
"I didn't think we tackled very well early on, but as the scrimmage wore on we became more physical in the secondary," Nix said. "We started to see some big hits. Jamarca had one and then our corners came up and took a shot or two later on. Once they got going and got challenged, they responded better. Jared Mitchell made some nice open field tackles but he gave up a big pass play early. That's the consistency, or lack of, that I'm talking about. We have to eliminate that.
"Right now, if we had to choose, our four safeties, in order, would be Sanford, Lewis, Brown and Mitchell, but with two of them out right now Mitchell is number two. We'll have four getting reps soon and Fon Ingram. At corner, Dustin Mouzon has started to become the most consistent guy, but we need Marshay Green and the rest of them to become more consistent in their play. There's that theme again - consistency."
At linebackers, Nix is keeping an eye on Patrick Trahan beyond the starters.
"The drawback with him is that he couldn't condition this summer and that puts him behind. He's in the catchup mode. His learning curve has been good, but we need him in better shape. Give him another week or two," Nix stated. "Overall, the linebackers are being led by Ashlee Palmer. He's playing at a high level of intensity and performance. Jonathan Cornell is doing a good job in the middle and when Allen Walker went down today we got a good day's work from Lamar Brumfield. If Trahan comes on, he will be in the mix. I want my fastest guys on the edge and right now that's Palmer, Walker and Trahan, but Trahan has work to do."
Offensive Coordinator Kent Austin saw pluses and minuses as well.
"We did some good things. We hit a lull in the middle there, but I was very pleased with the way we ran the ball hard, how the receivers made plays and I thought Jevan (Snead) was pretty accurate most of the day," Austin began. "Jevan made great decisions most of the scrimmage.
"He was real good at the line of scrimmage in changing plays. He has to be able to recognize the fronts and when they are oveloading them, he has to get us into something that will work. Some of that is by design and some of it is ad lib and hand signals to the receivers. He's picked that up quickly and there's nothing like the experience he got today doing those things live."
Austin is pleased not only with the performance of the running backs, but the retention factor of the younger RBs.
"They run hard and have excellent ability, but what is pleasing to me is that they retain what they have learned from one practice to the next," he explained. "The younger guys are doing well in pass protection too, but this is a different speed and they are facing better athletes now so they have to keep working to get it right. I like their progress in all areas so far though."
Shifting around the OL due to injury has also helped the cause on the front, said Austin.
"Getting John Jerry in there is big for us. We need him to keep coming on. He is very valuable to us. He's big, athletic and he's got football intelligence. He has a chance to be outstanding and that's what we need him to be to shore up that OL," Austin noted.
We didn't get a "grade" from either of the coordinators, but from their body language and from their words, today's scrimmage was a good starting point for the rest of the preseaason camp.
"We've got a lot to do, but we've got a good foundation built and time to do it," is how Austin put it.
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