The defense used a 3-4 set on Wednesday during some 11 on 11 drills. It looked like DT Charles Tolbert got some reps at DE, unless there is a formation that calls for the DT to line up at the end spot?
Injuries to Taylor Smith, Ikenna Ike and Michael Stuart, have left defensive line with three healthy ends to conduct practice. DT Wilson Ramos, a DE last spring, has taken reps at end in the second and third team defense most of spring, but still is the backup DT. In a 3-4 set the WLB linebacker rushed as the other “end”.
In individual drills, DL Coach Kerry Locklin was getting on his players for not going full-speed. Cornell Banks got the most flack for his drills. But throughout spring, every defensive lineman has had to redo a drill at least once, including senior veterans Tyler Clutts and Jason Shirley.
The defensive line is arguably the weak link on the defense in terms of depth. Unlike last year’s Spring Game when the defensive line went three deep, this year it barely has enough healthy players for a two-deep.
The secondary has been making plays all spring, Wednesday was just another day. A.J. Jefferson, Marvin Haynes, Moses Harris and Lorne Bell have all had good springs. But the lone returning full-time starter, Damon Jenkins, has had an underwhelming spring to say the least.
Jenkins missed Saturday’s scrimmage and has practiced in half-pads the entire spring. On Wednesday, he was still in half-pads but he moved well and practiced with the first team defense in 11 on 11 action. His injury didn’t look serious when he made a fantastic interception.
Jenkins made a great play on the ball after the receiver tipped it – the infamous tip drill in action. Jenkins tipped the ball and bobbled it about four times to keep in alive until he was able to control it. After the interception he would have been off to the races if the coaches had not blown the whistle.
Bell made another huge play on defense in 11 on 11 action. He went after the ball after Jesus Tapia made a reception on a quick out. Bell quickly tried to take possession of the football away from Tapia and both wrestled to the ground after the catch. But Bell came away with the football. Plays like that, from the secondary, were lacking last season.
Jason Crawley is 6-2 and has vertical leap of about 40”. He fits the mold for an excellent “kick-blocker”. Clifton Smith and A.J. Jefferson have practiced at the coveted outside spot on the kick block team. But Wednesday, Crawley made his presence known.
Smith, although fast and quick, is about four to six inches shorter than most players who lined up on the outside under Special Team Coach John Baxter. Jefferson has blocked a FG in practice and Smith has come close but Crawley is probably better suited to block kicks.
Wednesday the receiver easily made into the backfield and blocked a Kyle Zimmerman FG. Crawley did not have to extend his long arms too much as he reached the backfield quite fast. The Bulldogs lacked playmakers on special teams last season, as well. But this spring, the kick blocking team has looked solid.
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