April 15, 2014

Practice Peek: April 15

Bad thunderstorms kept Southern Miss from practicing Monday afternoon, but the Golden Eagles picked up right where they left off Tuesday with one of the last practices before the spring game April 19. Coach Todd Monken described the practice as "average" and was disappointed in the way his team hustled. And while Monken attributed some of that to not having his players in full pads, he also wanted it to be known that his guys have to have more energy for him to be happy. Some observations:

- The defense continued to force turnovers, picking off Parker Adamson, Nick Mullens and Matthew Bergeron on the day. Trae Collins intercepted Adamson in 6-on-6 drills and Alan Howze took a tipped pass from Bergeron to the house. Mullens' pick came on one of his only mistakes of the day when, in a do-or-die scenario, Emmanuel Johnson dove in front of a low pass to secure the INT.

- Monken has allowed Chip Lindsey to coach the quarterbacks this season but he still spends a lot of 1-on-1 time with Mullens in practice. You can tell he enjoys teaching Nick and the sophomore is a receptive learner.

- The O-line and D-line competed in 1-on-1 drills and Draper Riley continues to impress. Rod Crayton also had a good day coming off the edge.

- The offense is still working out the kinks and it shows on the field. Monken was visibly frustrated by the O a lot Tuesday, and he described their learning process as "much better" than last year but needing much more improvement.

- The Eagles ended the day with a "last play of the game" drill at various spots inside the 25. Mullens threw a touchdown to Kyle Sloter on the first one and threw the aforementioned pick to E-Man the second time around.

- The defense is still making big-league plays and vicious hits. DeBarriaus Miller de-cleeted Marquise Ricard on a long throw during drills and Jacorius Cotton just missed another one of his pad-popping blows.

- As if he needed another position under his belt, Kyle Sloter practiced returning punts with Jalen Richard and Dylan Fedora after practice ended. I asked him about and it he said he wanted to see if he could help out since the punt team has had trouble hanging onto the ball in recent weeks.

- George Payne is back from his injury and running with the twos again. Payne had a couple of solid runs but Monken was displeased with his physicality throughout the session.

- Nick Mullens continues to set the pace of the offense and looks to be doing a good job of managing the game and making his progressions. He's come a long way since this time last season, mainly because he wasn't even on campus at this point.

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