Head coach Gary Patterson was impressed with his team's performance after the week off, especially his defense.
"Pretty good, I thought defensively a lot more retention. Offense, we did some things. I was not happy with red zone we gave up a big play and threw a silly interception," he said of Tuesday's practice. "We went to every other day practices this spring and I think it's really helped us with the knowledge with our younger team. There's a lot more retention coming back and so we'll see what happens Thursday. It's about what I had hoped I would get out of this Tuesday practice; a lot of good one on one stuff. We got to keep getting better but we're a lot better than where we started three weeks ago. We're not where we need to be going forward but at least were further along."
With only four practices remaining, Patterson says starting spring workouts earlier this year will give his team more time in the weight room and more importantly, time to focus on academics. Patterson went on to say that possibly five players will not practice in the last week so they can put forth their focus on academics.
"This week is still two practices of getting better and we'll have our last scrimmage on Saturday. We'll come back Tuesday and it'll be our clean up stuff and our younger guys will actually get after each other halfway through practice," Patterson said. "And then we'll turn our attention to people that do differently than a lot of throwing teams like Kansas State and West Virginia. We've been watching everybody and the plays that are hard to defend or scheme out of all the teams that we're going to play next year."
One of the key areas the coach definitely wants to see improvement on is in the return game. Last season the Frogs struggled mightily on punt returns when it came to holding onto the ball. Several players got opportunities to showcase their return capabilities and although some did have good returns, holding onto the pigskin was quite a chore in some cases.
With past returners such as Corey Rodgers, Brian Bonner and Jeremy Kerley; having a good returner is a big key for the Frogs success.
"Kickoff return is about the same guys. Really, it's about the same guys, Brandon Carter, Ed Wesley and Skye Dawson on punt returns. We're trying to do some things to get them mentally tougher to handle the ball. We've had two or three All-Americans and we put the ball on the ground far too much last year, we've got to do a better job of that."
TAUSCH GETTING ADDED REPS
With so many injuries along the offensive line this spring, it's given several players the chance to step up and make good impressions. Among those players who are making the most of his opportunity is backup center Eric Tausch. The junior lineman has worked all over the offensive line this spring and according to Patterson, is one of the spring's biggest surprises with his ability to do so many things along the line.
"It's about the two's and three's and one of the big surprises already has been Eric Tausch. He's been starting at tackle since Tayo's been gone. Him moving and knowing that he's also a backup center pushing for a starting role," Patterson said. "If you can find five starters now you've got six. To make it through the season you have to have eight at least. That's our biggest push right now is to get there."
DOES HE EVER REST?
While his players enjoyed the freedom of taking a week off from school and practice, Coach Patterson stayed at home and treated it like a regular work week.
"I didn't leave. I actually spent last week and broke down Kansas State, Virginia and West Virginia just because I'd watched everybody else a lot closer."
________________________________________________________________ ADDITIONAL PATTERSON QUOTES
On the pass rush
"I think so, we actually played pretty decent. Like everybody, where you can find out if you have a good pass rush is on first down. We can turn run recognition into pass recognition and go. A lot of people can rush on third downs. That's the things we're still moving forward with and we're getting better at it."
On Antonio Graves playing strong safety
"He's doing really good. I think for some of the young players this break has been great. I think it kind of cleared their mind and they kind of got where they were getting tired and getting banged up. Now, they're loosened up. We got to keep getting better but I think we made ourselves a lot better by moving him there."
Depth at tight end
"We lost two physical tight ends. We have better vertical tight ends but to play the TCU does we've got to keep being physical and that's what our tight ends do. Right now we're going to keep moving forward. We've got two tight ends coming in the fall and so we'll see how it all turns out."
On Kolby Listenbee playing as a true freshman
"We only have eight wide receivers on scholarship so right now that's two deep across the board so I'd say yes."
On Danny Heiss still at #2 at LB
"Him and Hasley, it's pretty easy right now to be a two because nobody is pushing them. I might be able to be a three."