Tigers Get Back To Practice, Defense Wins Black Jerseys

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Lindsay Petersen, contributing writer

On another early morning on Kadlec field, the team had one of their best practices yet. With cooler temperatures, the team adjusted to the new depth chart. The players were intent on gaining back their starting spot or keeping the one they had.

After today's session, Coach Pinkel told media that he was pleased with what he saw on the field.

"Overall I thought this was the best practice we've had this entire camp," Pinkel said. "I'd like to think we did a lot of good things in the scrimmage, but we weren't happy about a lot of things also, we came out and got a lot better football team, we need to continue to do that. The leadership was better, the enthusiasm level was better, and continue to hopefully improve," he said.

There were still some injuries on the field which gave some a chance to start with the 1st string. WR Jerrell Jackson opted to have surgery this morning on the broken bone in his left wrist, but Coach Pinkel indicated that the surgery won't change the timeline for his return to the field - it's still anticipated he'll be back in September, likely after missing a couple of games. Dan Hoch was out of practice today, still suffering from a sprained toe he got during the first play of Saturday's scrimmage. This gave OL sophomore Jack Meiners a chance to show off his skills with the first string offense.

Additionally on the injury front, WR Kerwin Stricker was out with a combination groin/ankle injuries, and Coach Pinkel said an MRI will be done to test the severity of his groin ailment, while WR Jimmie Hunt and OL Kirk Lakebrink also sat out drills today after spraining ankles in Saturday's scrimmage. Pinkel indicated that Hunt was expected to miss possibly a week with his injury. Late in the day, TB Kendial Lawrence took a helmet to his hip, and sat out the rest of the day with what was diagnosed as a hip pointer.

In individual pass rush/protection drills, Meiners was able to hold back DL Dominique Hamilton today. Hamilton was not able to reach the QB dummy with Meiners protecting. Meiners was also able to keep DL Jacquies Smith from breaking through and pushed back with such intensity that there was no way for Smith to get around. DL Michael Sam - promoted to #2 on the depth chart at one end position after a five-sack scrimmage on Saturday - had a good practice when he was able to break through OL Anthony Gatti and reach the QB dummy for a sack. OL Tim Barnes also had a good practice and followed through on each block, which kept DL Jimmy Burge from earning a sack or pressuring the dummy QB. OL Elvis Fisher and DL Aldon Smith had an intense morning drill as each battled hard against each other to keep the other from gaining any space. Smith had the victory when he made it through to the QB after a slight spin to get around Fisher.

When the play turned to 11-on-11 scrimmaging, the defense began with a great start as LB Luke Lambert tipped a pass thrown by QB Jimmy Costello. TE Beau Brinkley was doing well for the tigers today and caught several passes by Costello. Costello was also able to run the ball up the middle for a gain of several yards until stopped by LB Andrew Gachkar and LB Luke Lambert. LB Will Ebner was back on the field for a little bit today, as he's continuing to recover from a strained hamstring, he was able to cover Brinkley and cause an incomplete pass thrown by Costello.

As they continued 11 on 11, the team began to work on 3rd down drills. QB Blaine Gabbert had a successful gain of 15 yards when he ran the ball down field. However, B. Gabbert's pass intended to WR Wes Kemp on the next play was incomplete with DB Carl Gettis was on the coverage. The defense won this round.

As the drill went on, DL Lucas Vincent and DL Kony Ealy had a good morning as they sacked QB Tyler Gabbert in one play and forced out of the pocket several times with intense pressure. T. Gabbert did have a successful pass on the scramble to get away from the approaching defensive line, and he threw a very long and strong pass to TB Greg White for a touch down for the offense.

The morning was finished up with a few conditioning drills. The tigers will take on their next practice this afternoon at 3:45. For more highlights and updates, continue to visit mutigers.com.

Other news and notes from Tiger camp...

  • A couple of roster changes included TE Alex Sanders and TB Nikko Sansone deciding to leave the program, they both did so yesterday. Added to the camp 105 roster were OL Marvin Norman and TB Matt Davis.
  • The Miami Dolphins had a scout in attendance today at the facilities, watching practice...
  • Freshman DB Braylon Webb had a couple of nice plays Monday morning, as he forced a fumble early in the day during inside run drills, and then he later broke up a pass in the endzone in 11-on-11 work for the reserve defense...
  • Coach Pinkel told reporters that one of the toughest things to do is to tell a player that he's moved down the depth chart, so it's always interesting to see how guys react to the move. With that in mind, give a lot of credit to the guys in that position on Monday, as they brought a collective mentality of competition that helped make the practice the best one in Coach Pinkel's estimation. TB De'Vion Moore had a very good day, and was eventually taking some snaps with the #1 offense late in the day, and then WR Rolandis Woodland also made some nice grabs as he's working to regain his top spot on the depth...
  • Late in the practice, during 11-on-11 work in the redzone, when the #1 offense and #1 defense went against each other, QB Blaine Gabbert lofted a fade pass in the corner to Rolandis Woodland, and it looked like it might go for a touchdown initially, but CB Carl Gettis was there, and he jumped high to get a hand on the ball and knock it down for an incompletion. On the next snap, Gabbert was flushed from the pocket thanks to a strong push by the defensive line, as well as good coverage in the secondary, and he was forced to throw the ball away. Gabbert got the offense on the scoreboard on the next play though, as he hit TE Michael Egnew on a really nice play-action delay route over the middle that Egnew caught for a 10-yard score. The defense eventually got the win, as they made three straight plays to end it. LB Andrew Gachkar applied tight coverage to Egnew in the endzone, knocking a pass away for an incompletion, and that followed two straight run stops on 3rd and goal from the 2-yardline. On the first, TB Derrick Washington tried off tackle for no gain, as DE Jacquies Smith was there for the stop, and then the defense loaded up against the run and stuffed an option try that went to the right side...
  • Reserve QB Ashton Glaser ended things well for the offense, as he hit WR Marcus Lucas on an inside screen for a 5-yard touchdown, and on the next snap, he connected with TE Eric Waters for a 5-yard touchdown pass...
  • The defense won the black jerseys tomorrow, in a fierce competition that went down to the wire. The count is now evened up at three wins apiece for the offense and defense during camp...

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