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Jrlz's Spring Game thoughts

Velvet Underground - Run Run Run

Wise words from the Velvet Underground for Crowton and co.  This offense is built to run the ball.  The offensive line was not perfect against the pass rush, but they opened big holes.  And Stevan Ridley took full advantage, rushing for 104 yards on just 13 attempts, a 8 yards per carry clip.  I couldn't always get a clear view of who was creating the gaps, but I think I saw big gains through all of the gaps.  Between Barksdale and Josh D, Josh and P. J., P. J. and Blackwell, Blackwell and Hurst.  Chase Clement and Dominique Allen performed well as blockers.  The Tigers have an offensive line that is built for the run (big and strong), and that's exactly what Crowton and Co. should take advantage of.

As impressive as Stevan Ridley was for the white squad, Michael Ford looked even better.  Ford showed everything you want to see in a running back.  Vision, power, agility and speed.  Michael Ford made the second-string line look good.  He pounded the hole, turned the corner, showed burst and made great cuts.  This is a kid that can run through linebackers and around safeties.  The purple squad fed Mike, and Mike gave the purple squad 140 yards on 19 attempts, a 7.3 YPA clip (and they were tough yards too).  I think this kid is special.

So I think our run offense will be huge this season.  The pass game?  I'll get back to you.  Jefferson had a bad game today, going a combined 8-23 for 94 yards and an INT.  How bad was Jefferson?  Jarrett Lee threw a pick-six and the Rant wants Lee to start.  Granted, Lee did make some nice throws, and he led the Tigers on a touchdown drive in what I think was his only possession with the first-string offense, but Jefferson looked bad today.  He made quick decisions, but a lot of his quick decisions were to throw the ball away.  The good news is that it's spring, and the coaches have time to fix JoJeff's issues.  What I noticed is this:  The best drives for either squad had only a few pass attempts.

It's quite clear that the coaches want Russell Shepard in the offense at all times.  Shepard had some drops, proving he's not perfect, but he also made a good handful of sweet plays, proving he has tons of potential at WR.  Out of all the WRs, I'd say Shepard was the best of them.  He played at WR, RB and wildcat for both squads, catching a combined 4 passes for 51 yards, and adding a remarkable 66 yards on 8 carries, including 7 carries for 58 yards for the purple squad.  That's a combined 109 yards on 12 touches for Shepard.  Getting this guy the ball is a good idea.

How about the defense?  The starting defense was split up between the two squads, and both Drake Nevis and Kelvin Sheppard were held out today for precautionary reasons, so the defense didn't have a chance to really show off, but that didn't mean there weren't some highlights.

Sam Montgomery had a monster game for the Tigers, getting two sacks, two passes broken up and a QB hurry on the day.  Montgomery could be a huge difference-maker for the Tigers, and coaches and fellow players are singing his praises.

For the white squad, the most impressive player was none other than Barkevious Mingo, who is thin but talented.  Seven tackles, two sacks, a QB hurry and a pass broken up, one can expect to see the redshirt freshman get some playing time in third-down passing situations.  Perhaps soon he will be known more for his game than his name.

DT Bennie Logan also looked good for the white squad, getting 7 tackles and a sack.  Craig Loston had the aforementioned pick-six, but also had six tackles.  Kevin Minter had a game high 14 tackles and shared a TFL with Mingo.

Perhaps the most impressive moment of the day belonged to Josh Jasper and his 57-yard field goal.  Getting into field goal range just got easier for the Tiger offense.

A few more things can be discovered, but let's take a look at a few quotes from our boys.

Patrick Peterson:

On which young defensive player has impressed him ...
"Sam Montgomery is probably the most improved player I have seen since I have been here. He has been playing great, and now he is in the starting lineup. He is going to make a huge impact on the secondary because he is going to get the quarterback to throw the football a little bit faster."

Montgomery has already been spotted at practices in the first string, and this quote confirms it.  Miles doesn't usually start freshmen, but when a freshman starts, there's usually a reason.

Josh Dworaczyk:

"Things that we did today that a lot of people got to see are things we've been doing all spring. We're just making holes for our running back, really trying to push for that vertical field momentum. You don't see offensive linemen running with the ball and you don't see them catching passes, so the fact of the matter is we've got to do our job and that's block, period. 

I really like this quote.  Josh Dworaczyk won the Erik Andolsek award for Leadership on Offense for the spring.  Somebody needed to step up as a leader on the O-line, and Josh D. is as good as anybody.  From what I heard, Josh D. bulked up to above 300 lbs, and he looked great out there.

Stevan Ridley:

"You can't ask any more from the offensive line. The first drive they came out and made some gaping holes and all I had to do was what came naturally to me, which is run the ball. I can't ask for anything more from my offensive line and fullback Dominique Allen. They're working hard for us up front with the blocking."

Stevan is right, and smart enough to give them all the credit.  Always be nice to your O-Line.

Russell Shepard:


On if regrets choosing to switch from quaterback...
"I love it. I feel like I made the best decision probably of my whole life. Receiver position and running back position fit my skill set a little more than the quarterback position. I don't regret it one bit. Actually, I love it and thank God every day that I made this choice."

Russell Shepard is a ray of sunshine.

Coach Les Miles:

"We put a premium on running the football. I felt like we improved there. We played a vanilla style of offense and a vanilla style of defense, so when you divide teams up, I don't know exactly how good or how bad (we played). The only thing I can tell you is that we are better than we've been. I like the way we run the football. I think we are physical. I like the speed on the defensive side of the field, and I thought the day was good. I thought Stevan Ridley starts the day out with a nice drive in the early-going, and I felt like we executed extremely well there. I thought Michael Ford had some nice runs, the kind of runs where you use your eyes and make cuts and make people miss. I think there is some improvement at the tight end spot, and the wide receivers got a lot of reps today. I thought we used Russell Shepard in a number of different ways. I like what's going on, on that side of the ball. The defense was a little hamstrung today in the fact that we were real vanilla, and half that defense was on the field at one time. We did not have Drake Nevis or Kelvin Sheppard, both of which had minor nicks, but really, we just chose not to use them. We think we came out of the spring game without injury, which ultimately that's maybe one of the key pieces of the day. I think Sam Montgomery got a bump, and I think he'll be fine. I think Josh Downs had an ankle sprain. I think we are good.

In other words, it was a spring game.  See you this fall.  Geaux Tigers!