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Practice Report: 4/11

This practice report is brought to you by Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon and Diet Coke. Part of a complete breakfast!

Couldn’t have asked for better weather for a scrimmage today. Other than that, the practice kinda sucked. I’d like to hope that the defense has really stepped up it’s game, and has made the offense completely unbearable to watch. The offensive line wasn’t stellar today by any means, but they provided enough time in the pocket to expect better results from all four quarterbacks.

•    Snead was 5/9 by my count, including a drop, an overthrow, a nice INT by Fon Ingram, another near-INT (dropped), and a couple of nice throws peppered in, including a touchdown on a swing to Andy Hartman.
•    Stanley was also 5/9 by my count, including a crossing pattern TD to Dexter, a routine pick by Jared Mitchell (almost returned for a TD), and a couple of ill-advised short throws to guys who weren’t open. He did have one decent long throw to Summers, though better placement would have resulted in a TD.
•    Clayton Moore’s comedy of errors today had Benny Hill theme music bouncing around in my head whenever he went under center. He was 3/6, but with only one pass gaining any significant yardage. He had two decent runs that would not have been decent with the first team defense on the field. He did have two fumbles in his own end zone (one recovered for a TD), a heinous underthrow, and a pick.
•    Tapp was 5/10, and his action included an intentional grounding penalty, as well as a wild tip-drill TD by Richie “The Mongoose” Contartesi.

The running game was more consistent, with Bolden taking a couple of tough runs for good yardage in limited action. Enrique Davis and Cordera Eason had unremarkable days; Enrique seemed like he was met by defenders in the backfield frequently, though. Andre Sterling had a very nice 25(ish) yard run, along with a few other decent gains, and Devin Thomas continued to be serviceable and tough, even in some snaps with the first teamers. Lionel Breaux had a highlight-worthy touchdown on an end-around, speeding to the corner only to cut inside and make two guys miss.

Wide receiver play was misleadingly bad, due to aggressive secondary play and the inability of the quarterbacks to make the DB’s pay for it. I remain confused by Markeith Summers’ inconsistency in being aggressive and getting the football. He’s shown great flashes since his first camp, but has been unable to be a consistent threat. He had a couple of solid catches today and a couple of incompletions that could have been reeled in with some aggression and smart use of his size and strength. Shay Hodge was a non-factor today, didn’t see many snaps at all. Breaux was effective at stretching the field, but the ball wasn’t put where he could get it very often. Again, the receivers were not on display at all today.

The offensive line will be a question mark until well into the season. It’s impossible to tell whether the defensive line’s domination is a good sign or not. Sowell has improved, but not more than one would expect with the extra coaching and repetitions. He’s back on the first squad at left tackle, save for a couple of plays at right tackle while Neely played left. I didn’t have enough eyes to watch the whole line, as I was too focused on Sowell’s progress, as well as the underperformance of the quarterbacks. The second team line will have to step it up, though; they are poor to the point where their incompetence affects the quality of practice for the rest of the team.

The defense could be absolutely stifling this year. This level of dominance without Greg Hardy is impressive no matter who is on the offensive line. Barring injury, there is little reason to worry about the front seven at all. The starters are fast and vicious. Expect Trahan to be the best playmaker out of the ‘backers, and Cornell and Walker to continue as solid assignment guys who can run and tackle. Didn’t notice much along the defensive front on an individual basis, but Drummond appears to be the class of the 3rd team (woo!), while Powe makes noise on the 2nd line. Powe is bound to be a significant contributor if he can stay motivated and get healthy. 25 intense snaps from him per game could be a huge difference-maker.

Some of the stars of the scrimmage were in the defensive secondary. Johnny Brown and Kendrick Lewis might be the best safety pair at Ole Miss in my lifetime. Both can find the ball in the air, both can lay the wood. Lewis made some tough hits close to the line today, even dropping Devin Thomas for a three yard loss on an outside run, with a satisfying crunch that made the sidelines go wild. Marshay Green was solid, but Julian Whitehead stole the show early in the scrimmage, with a tough hit on Summers, as well as a layout deflection on a hook route.

This was my set of observations. It’s no easy task to watch 22 guys on the field with only 2 eyes, so if you have any different observations, feel free to chime in. Happy Easter and whatnot,