Tubs talks O-line, Ontiveros
While the offensive line has made definite progress this spring, there are still some rough patches to be buffed over by new offensive line coach Chris Thomsen. Head coach Tommy Tuberville said that he was pleased with the overall progress on assignments, but false starts and center problems still plague the Red Raiders.
"We're struggling still at our center position with our second team center," Tuberville said. "We're going back from Jared Kaster to Tony Morales, but Deveric Gallington is getting a lot better. We're more physical. You've got to remember now that in spring practice, you have so many different combinations of guys in the game, practicing. Sometimes the timing is off, but we've gotten a little bit better on the offensive line in terms of assignment. It seems like we're making a lot of mistakes, like Saturday we had like seven or eight illegal procedure penalties, and you can't have that in the game. But hopefully we'll get those out of the way this spring."
Speaking of blockers, Tuberville said that he was also pleased with the progress made by fullback Omar Ontiveros.
"He's a good blocker, and I like what he's done with his strength in the weight room. He's gotten a lot stronger. He missed a couple of blocks last year that really affected us, but it was his first year too," he said. "I think he likes his role. We're going to play him some in a small tight end position, we'll put him in the backfield, we'll move him around. He can catch the ball, too. I think he'll play a little bit bigger role than he did last year."
Back on the offensive line, we know left tackle LaAdrian Waddle will come into his senior season with big expectations on him.
"This is a big year for him. A money year. he's got all the height and athletic ability to do well after college, and he's picked up his leadership role. I think Chris Thomsen, our new offensive line coach has asked a lot more of him, and which I think he's given," he said. "He's had a good spring so far. We've got six practices left, but as I told him, he's got to take advantage of every practice to get better. He's got to become more physical, sometimes he's a little bit late off the football in pass protection, and he's worked a lot on that this spring. Problem is, different centers, Deveric changing up the snap count makes it a little bit more difficult for the tackles."
"He's got a lot of potential, and he had a pretty good year last year, but I expect him to be much better."
Offensive struggles partially due to injuries
Tuberville said on Tuesday that while the defense may be ahead of the offense so far this spring, newcomers, position changes, and injuries have held the offense back quite a bit.
Tuberville also said that it's been a hard spring for Seth Doege, seeing that he's had to essentially adjust to an entire new receiver corps after the injuries to Alex Torres, Eric Ward, Marcus Kennard, and the rest of the position group.
"Our offense is behind the defense right now, but that's to be expected when you're playing so many new guys. We don't have a first team offense. We're moving guards around, we're moving tackles around," he said. "All the receivers go with the first and second group. I think the biggest thing that Doege has had to do is that he's had to figure out who all the new guys are. Tyson Williams, Javares McRoy and then the little man on the outside. It's just hard for a quarterback to get in any kind if rhythm when you've got so many receivers that are playing right now that probably won't play a big role in the fall."
A few notes:
*Alfredo Morales ran with the ones today in place of Beau Carpenter, who was in a minor car accident. I continue to like what I see out of the redshirt freshman. He has a mean streak that this offensive line needs in a bad way, and he held his own for the majority of his time at first string today.
*The further we move into spring, it seems that the offense is utilizing running backs and tight ends as blockers more and more. Ontiveros and Kenny Williams are doing quite a bit of blocking out of the backfield, and it seems to be giving some boost to the running game.
*Overall, the offense looked better than the defense today. In skeleton drills, Doege and Michael Brewer seemed to score touchdowns on the outside at will.
*Brewer is still taking off out of the pocket too often. He's usually scrambling at the first sign of trouble, and he needs to learn to sit back and slide around in the pocket better.
*While Gallington isn't where he needs to be on his snaps yet, he has continued to improve and looked his best today.
*Ronnie Daniels had another great day today. He had at least one run that would've gone 70 plus to the house. If he can keep going down the straight and narrow, Mr. Daniels has a very bright future.
The 'B' team
Tuberville assessed his overall defense and offense grades through eight spring practices Monday giving the defense a B in comparison to the offense's C.
There are a lot of good things happening on the defensive side of the ball. For starters cornerback Jeremy Reynolds had a big day.
"Jeremy is playing better," Tuberville said. "He's becoming more physical. We've thrown them a lot of coverages over the last week. We kind of started slow but now we're starting to add. I'm surprised he's picked it up as quickly as he has. He wants to play, he wants to be a physical corner in addition to just a cover guy. I saw him breaking on balls he wouldn't have done three or four months ago.
"That's just part of growing up. He's a freshman. Never played. He's got a lot of football sense. I like the way he breaks on balls. He's got a good chance to be a heck of a corner."
The linebackers are continuing their progression as well.
Will Smith has been moved to middle linebacker and Chris Payne is back with the starters after missing a few practices due to a minor knee injury.
"It's been good to watch these linebackers play different positions and moving them around," Tuberville said. "I think these last five practices coach Art Kaufman is going to find everyone a position and then leave them there. That will probably help them."
Tuberville commended the progression of Blake Dees and Sam Eguavoen as well but added he's been disappointed with Daniel Cobb's progression through spring ball thus far.
"A little disappointed with Daniel Cobb and how he's played," the head coach said. "He's more experienced, but he just hasn't played up to his potential. It's not from his effort, it's just his (alignment)."
*Tuberville said Smith might be the best linebacker on the team which prompted the move to middle linebacker. There are some teams the Red Raiders will run up against where Tech is best served using the nickel so Smith would be replaced by a corner in that situation.
*Cornelius Douglas is still the clear No. 1 cornerback.
*Cornerback Eugene Neboh had a concussion and won't be back until this summer.
*Lee Adams demonstrated concussion-like symptoms at the end of Tuesday's practice after a hit. He was carted off the field.
*I thought Thierry Nguema had his best day so far at corner.
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