Advantage Offense: The Red Raiders closed out their pre-spring break portion of workouts with the second of two straight practices in which the offense got the upper hand. Breaking with the established theme of defensive dominance, the offense overcame tough defensive resistance to punch in several touchdowns. What's more, the offense converted on several third- and fourth-and-long situations to do so. The final play of the session was a beautiful sideline pass to Derek Edwards in the corner of the end zone over Thierry Nguema, who had very tight coverage. That play was emblematic of the workout.
Better Work from Pass Catchers: With the exception of Kenny Williams, who dropped a pair of passes, and Aaron Fisher who had a horrendous day, the receivers caught the ball noticeably better than they did in the previous practice. Jace Amaro, in particular, made amends. He dropped one deep slant on which he seemed to hear footsteps, but other than that was lights out, making scintillating grab after sensational grab. Amaro may have been the offensive MVP.
Some Nice Signs from the Linebackers: Art Kaufman's linebackers did some good things. Sam Eguavoen had his best workout of the spring. He was particularly good in pass coverage where his speed and athleticism come to the fore. Eguavoen has excellent range and can actually cover receivers deep.
Blake Dees was very active against the run.
Pete Robertson gives every indication of being a far more physical player than his 215 pounds would suggest. The same goes for Chris Payne.
And Justin Cooper was all over the field. He blitzed very effectively indeed.
Backups I Liked Today: Branden Jackson, Donte Phillips, Thierry Nguema and Alfredo Morales all had nice moments today.
Jackson, who occasionally runs with the ones, made his presence felt in the pass rush. Tech needs a bookend for Dartwan Bush, who is an almost certain starter, and Jackson is a strong candidate.
Phillips took advantage of Lee Adams' absence by being a disruptive force in the middle of the line. He logged a couple of sacks, a tackle for loss, looked good in pass rush drills too.
Nguema is a player I've liked for some time now. He's fast and he plays tight coverage. He was beaten for a touchdown on the final play of practice, but even then was all over his man. I think he could see the field on more than special teams.
Alfredo Morales is simply Tech's most physical offensive lineman. Every time I see a defensive lineman on the ground, Morales is standing over him. Jackson Richards was one of his victims today.
Gamer Douglas: In the first team session Seth Doege threw a beautiful completion of 11 yards to Darrin Moore on an out route to pick up a first down. Cornelius Douglas was the defender. Five plays later the offense ran the very same play and Douglas jumped the route, easily intercepting the pass. This was Douglas' competitiveness and learning ability in spades.
Bringing the House: I estimate that the defense blitzed approximately 60 percent of the time, and virtually all of those blitzes were by linebackers.
Austin Stewart is having some difficulty picking up the defense and John Lovett is letting him know about it. Lovett repeatedly chastised Stewart for blown assignments and for not paying attention to his instructions and teaching.
Heavy Dose of the Run: The offense worked the running game heavily. Kenny Williams and SaDale Foster got all the reps. I did not see Ronnie Daniels in uniform.