Through one scrimmage and half of spring practice linebackers coach Lance Thompson said he is pleased with his group of players thus far.
"I was really pleased with them for the first scrimmage," said Thompson. "Austin Johnson was there for the first time and took most of the reps at middle linebacker and did a really nice job. LaMarcus (Thompson) and Herman (Lathers) really played well and were steady."
Thompson said he isn't an easy coach to please, but his players seem to be doing a great job at this point.
"They are doing all the intangible stuff that I ask them to do and they take coaching," Thompson said. "I'm not an easy guy to play for, I'm hard on them, but that is so Saturday won't be so difficult."
Thompson added that many of the players that served as reserves last season have progressed as well.
"There were a number of guys that were in backup roles last year that have done some good things," Thompson said.
Newly moved linebacker Austin Johnson is one player that has excelled at the middle linebacker position after only a few weeks at his new position. Thompson says that Johnson will no doubt be a contributor in the 2010 season.
"I know Austin Johnson is going to be a contributor, and he is going to get better every day because he is going to compete with Nick Reveiz for that position."
And while Johnson may be competing with Reveiz for the spot at middle linebacker that hasn't stopped Reveiz from serving as another coach on the support list for Johnson. In fact, Thompson points to Reveiz as a main contributor in Johnson's early success.
"He played it (linebacker) coming out of high school, but I think the fact that Nick is there as a player that can coach him every play (helps)," Thompson said. "On top of that he is an intelligent guy, he is a size-speed guy that is athletic and he has some linebacker instincts."
Although Reveiz may have been great help for Thompson no one was happier to see the captain return to the field at full speed.
"It put a smile on my face. It's like a coach on the field. He is a great kid," said Thompson.
"He represents everything that's great about college football and athletics. He does everything right on the field and off the field. He is an outstanding young man and everybody has to be a fan of Nick Reveiz."
After losing Reveiz during game number four of the 2009 season, Thompson is trying to develop depth throughout his linebacking corps, although it seems Johnson is already putting in overtime to be ready as soon as possible.
"I was up here last night watching tape at ten o'clock and both of them were up there with me," Thompson said of Johnson and Reveiz. "I left and said I am going home to get some sleep you guys need to do the same. They are just football junkies and as a coach that's what you love about them."
Thompson's main goal for his players during the remaining part of spring practice is to improve mentally and grasp each play before it takes place.
"I want them to become great mental players," Thompson said. "I want them to see the play before it happens. I want them to be able to direct the defense and have zero defects in terms of managing the defense, getting it called, getting it set and making the checks and adjustments. That's a lot on them. I want them to be better mentally."