March 31, 2009
By Ted Bryant - Media Relations Student Assistant -
In what could be considered one of the rowdier practices of the 2009 spring session, the offense seemed to be firing on all cylinders. The Tigers, however, were once again forced to practice in Dan Devine Pavilion due to weather that can only be described as blustery.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert looked sharp during drills, as he repeatedly hit his receivers in stride with tight spiral passes. The sophomore-to-be really seems to be coming into his own, displaying a confidence and poise that is growing by the day.
Today’s practice began with various contact drills. The defense worked on form tackling, one-on-one rips and swim moves on the defensive line, and beating cut blocks. The offense began as usual with route running and hand-off drills, while the linemen worked on their individual responsibilities on each play.
Running back Derrick Washington and wide receiver Jared Perry both returned to practice but were limited to participating only in non-contact drills. In their absence, the young guns have continued to assert themselves. During inside run drills, running backs De’Vion Moore and Shawn Scott both broke off big runs. Moore is going to be a big time player in the Big 12 Conference if he continues his development. He got a nice pop from free safety Kenji Jackson while running up the sideline, only to return the favor with an impressive blow of his own during hitting drills.
The wide receivers stole the show during drills and scrimmages today. Jerrell Jackson came down with a nice catch off a ball that had been thrown a little high, and managed to hang on after being laid out by the omnipresent Kenji Jackson. Brandon Gerau is continuing to impress. He looks like a solid option running out of the slot for the Tigers, as his strengths definitely seem to be quick slants and out routes. Tight end Jon Gissinger simply catches anything that is thrown to him, no matter where the ball is placed. He defies the unwritten rule that big men can’t catch.
During one-on-one line drills, the first team offensive line absolutely stifled the defensive line. The ferocity of their play has prompted me to give my award for player who stood out most at today’s practice to the entire unit. Center Tim Barnes had a great practice, smothering oncoming defenders and blocking until the whistle every time. Left tackle Elvis Fisher was just as fast as the defensive ends he faced as he proved that playing offensive line takes quite a bit of athleticism. Right Tackle Dan Hoch has improved greatly in the short amount of time since spring practice began.
The play of the day came during scrimmage, when Gabbert found a streaking Wes Kemp down the left sideline. Gabbert lofted the ball perfectly and Kemp went up and snatched it right over the defender’s head in the back corner of the end zone. With the way Kemp is beginning to emerge as a playmaker, it might be difficult to keep him out of the lineup when the season rolls around.
The Tigers will practice again this Thursday, April 2 on Faurot Field if the weather allows. The coaches will certainly be looking for intensity, as the team’s first major scrimmage will take place a mere two days later on April 4.