The weather is way too nice for August in Mississippi. Unfortunately, the 75 degree, shady afternoon brought out every douchebag from miles around. I found myself moving around not for a better vantage point, but to escape the yammerings of each successive idiot whose proximity I entered. I almost left. Also irritating today was the relative lack of offense. A buddy of mine who works for the team is really excited about the defense, and I guess I'd rather have the defense winning right now, but the offense needs to find some answers at tackle and some depth at receiver. More after the jump.
Snead and the other quarterbacks aren't producing the kind of highlight material we saw last year at times in practice. They're mainly just staring at blanketed receivers and shaky pocket protection. I didn't keep track of any passing numbers today. It was just too depressing. I know I'm supposed to like tough defenses, but dammit, I want to see some fireworks, too.
Raymond Cotton mishandled another snap. I hope it's the center. Cotton's passes are looking good, but he's just throwing it up to guys that aren't really open. No one is open. I don't know what's going on.
Brandon Bolden looks like he's in great shape. His balance and quickness are really showing out in practice now. I'm sure, like the linebackers, he can't wait to start knocking the snot out of guys.
Speaking of tough backs, Rodney Scott pissed off the defense today by trucking a 2nd team DB into next week. The defense has a hard time not laying guys out anyways, so when a 5'9 freshman lays the wood to them, they understandably take offense. It was a hell of a hit; Nutt could sense the 2nd team's aggravation at Scott, and he didn't take any more snaps against the 2nd team D.
If Ja-Mes Logan doesn't start pulling down some of these more difficult passes, he might not be a shoo-in (or a shoe-on, if you're Yancy) for early playing time, as I'd previously thought. His routes are great, his speed is great, but you've gotta bring in the rock.
Jesse Grandy is still fast as crap, and is still built like a 15 year-old on steroids and diruetics. Still, if Nutt is looking for a receiver who can get some separation and make guys miss, he may look to Grandy this year. Seriously though, if he's the 180 pounds he's listed at, I'll eat my hat. Dude is 160, tops.
Patterson was probably the 3rd best receiver today. He had a layout catch on a slant; it was a sweet catch, but the coaches wanted him to break the press faster and catch it in stride. He had a couple of catches on hook routes that he might have turned upfield for big gains, if the contact wasn't limited. The defensive coaches are instructing the DB's to respect Pat's strength and tackle-breaking ability.
Markeith Summers had a freaking terrible drop today on a wide open deep route. Come on, Markeith.
I started practice by watching the tight ends run a blocking drill. After his first few games, Gerald Harris never impressed me, but he's looking pretty sharp. He seems to be the best blocker we have at the position. If the LT position doesn't get more solid, Nutt's going to start taking Gerald to Mickey D's for breakfast every morning...
EJ Epperson had a pretty bad drop today. With his size, I wanted him to be super fast and a great receiver, but honestly, it looks like he blocks better and catches and runs worse than I expected.
Spirit posters, and Nafoomers (sorry, I don't usually group you together) DIVERT YOUR EYES. BELOW IS SOME NEWS THAT YOU WILL NOT LIKE. I'M SERIOUS, JUST SKIP FURTHER DOWN.
Z Mason may not be the athlete we were expecting. At least not yet. He's certainly huge, and has a great, lean frame. However, he's not exploding off the ball like he should be, both in blocking and receiving drills. His breaks aren't smooth or quick. He's looking borderline slow. Stanley put a jump ball in the endzone in Z's direction, and he made an awkward, unathletic bat at it with a much smaller man on him. Again, guys, I want Z to be awesome. I love kickass tight ends, but unless Z is sick (a simple cold can really kill your speed), out of shape, or hurt, he just doesn't look nearly as athletic as many of us were expecting.
NO BAD NEWS HERE!!! CERTAINLY NOT! WHERE WERE WE?!?!
The offensive line continues to try to hold their own against their defensive counterparts. Honestly, I don't envy that task one bit. The defense is hungry and mean right now. Sowell had another lovely session of grass drills following another false start. Dude needs to shape it up. I'm trying to learn more about line play. It seems like in practice, the left tackle usually doesn't just block the right defensive end, as you'd expect, and as NCAA Football on XBox has always taught me. It seems like the LT hangs more often hangs back and waits on a linebacker, or shifts right and helps contain a defensive tackle. I wish I knew more about these blocking schemes so I could tell you more about how the guys are holding up to expectations. Anyone can see that Sowell lacks some of the strength and killer instinct you want in an SEC LT though.
Massie didn't get any first team snaps that I saw today. Who knows if that's because a) they're satisfied with Sowell, b) Massie isn't performing great, or c) if they're wanting to give Sowell every chance to improve before they make a drastic move and plug in a true freshman at LT.
Brandon Green worked with the first team again, in place of Rishaw Johnson, who is apparently in the doghouse, for real. He was still with the 3rd team today.
The D line continues to look solid, though there weren't as many ridiculous plays from them as there have been the last couple of days. No one really stood out.
Didn't notice much out of the linebackers, either. Just solid. No huge mistakes that I noticed.
I hate to say it, but the defensive backs are beating the receivers right now, Hodge and McCluster excepted. They have a swagger I haven't seen in them before, and they're really harassing all the receivers. Cassius Vaughn did execute a pretty good pratfall in 1 on 1's against Dex. Dex shrugged his shoulders as if to say "I didn't touch him, wtf was that?" Cassius, stay on your feet. We don't need a revisit of Bryan Brown's fall that led to Danny Wimprine's 92 yard TD pass in 2003. Man, that still hurts.
Charles Sawyer got chewed out bad for giving up while a ball was still in the air in 1 on 1 drills. He's been great for a freshman, let's hope he takes it in stride and continues to produce.
Saw Andrew Ritter today. Wow, what a nice young man...
"GET RISHAW!!! HE'S THE SELFISH ONE!!!" --Marshay Green, yelling at the 3rd team D
"Hey, 16 got no speed, don't worry about it. Play up close!" --Greg Hardy, talking shit at Markeith Summers
"(In a cordial, faux-British accent) Hellooooo kickers... punters and snappers. How are we today?" Patrick Trahan, while walking over to the Jackson Academy section of the sidelines.
I guess that's all I've got; stay tuned for JUCO and me double-teaming the practice report tomorrow. I'm making him watch the offensive line.