On a crisp clear, slightly windy day, South Alabama hit the practice fields to continue spring drills with an ample amount of local and regional high school coaches on hand from the Jags first ever football coaches clinic.
The tempo and the effort today was good, especially early in the practice. There’s still more inconstancy than the coaches would like, and guys not knowing where to be, but that’s to be expected, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
New LB coach Travis Pearson is something of a little different element to the coaching staff. He’s loud and intense and has a very commanding presence. From one practice field over he started yelling, “You’re not running!” at one of his LBs and I thought he was right behind me. I almost took off running.
New OLB/DE coach Freddie Roach worked the DEs over pretty hard in his own right. One of the young DL drew his ire for lack of effort during drills and it was impressive. I feel very good about having those guys on board.
This is the deepest, most competitive group I’ve seen working at OL since the inception of South Alabama football. Keep in mind, this was a group working without Ucambre Williams or Shawn Artz, who were both running laps around practice fields (Williams was running without a limp). Chris May looked very good at LOT. He’s always had good feet, but he looks stronger and he’s playing with a lot of confidence. With Artz out, redshirt freshman Steven Foster was working with the1’s at ROG and had a very good day. He absolutely looks the part. Foster and follow redshirt freshman Clay Machen, working at second team ROT, got a lot of attention from coach Robert Matthews. Senior Matt Calcagnini is working at center trying to hold off redshirt freshman Joe Scelfo. Melvin Meggs looked great at right tackle while Drew Dearman worked at LOG with the first team. Darrius McKeller (ROT), James Elliott (ROG) and Daniel Aust (LOG). After watching coach Matthews and coach Chase Smith put this group through drills, I have high expectations for this group, especially if Artz and Williams are 100% in the fall. A local high school coach in attendance for the coach’s clinic commented to me about how knowledgeable of an OL coach Chase Smith is.
It was good to see Charles Harris back out there. He, Terrell Brigham and Charles Watson all looked good today at safety. Harris came up in support on a bubble screen and hit the WR so hard helmet paint went flying. Que Ford was another welcome addition. Ford worked inside at nickel with Darius Morrow and Tyrell Pearson at the CBs. Pearson made a lot of plays on the day. E.J. May made several nice plays at CB as well. He needs more consistency, but he has the ability to grow into a good CB. Anthony Harris worked in a non-contact jersey.
Speaking of consistency, the WR corp. has to be more consistent catching the ball. There were way too many drops today, even in drills where the QBs were throwing to the WRs without any DBs in coverage.
There were also a lot of bobbled snaps, especially on the part of Ross Metheny. Not QB/center exchanges, but shotgun snaps that appeared to be waist high and completely manageable snaps to handle.
All of that being said, there seemed to be a big emphasis on ball control, both on the ability of the offensive skill players to hold on to the ball and on the part of the defense to rip the ball from the ball carrier, to the point where wrestling for the ball carried on well after the play was over at times.
The QBs did have their moments today. Ross Metheny and Brandon Bridge looked about even, though Bridge probably made more throws down field. Bridge connected on a couple of long TD throws. Ross Metheny made a nice TD throw that Bryant Lavender made a great grab on. Grant Powell threw a really nice deep ball down the sideline that transfer Kyron King ran under for a nice TD.
Junior College transfer Jay Jones had a great day at RB. He’s extremely quick and has excellent vision. When he sees a crease he gets in it and seems to have a knack for slithering out of it. Demetre Baker looks sleeker and quicker. Kendall Houston locked more like his old self at RB.
There was a noticeable sense of senior leadership on the field. There was a lot of player coaching player, as well, which is a good thing as it leads to players demanding effort from one another. There is still a long way to go, but this team has the look of a group ready to take a step forward.