Spring practice continues to improve the Rebel offense

Posted on Mar 31 2016 - 8:08am by Cody Thomason

You can only tell so much from spring practices, but offensive coordinator said he Dan Werner likes how his offense looks so far. While playing against the same defense every day – one that knows the offensive scheme – can make it hard to judge the performance, Werner said that he’s seen improvement.

“I think our guys are obviously bought into our system and we’re getting better every day,” Werner said. “These young guys, we have been hard on them. You guys got to be ready to go.”

Werner said he specifically liked what he saw from young receivers Damarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson.

Eric Swinney breaks a tackle during practice on Monday. (Photo by: Ariel Cobbert)

Eric Swinney breaks a tackle during practice on Monday. (Photo by: Ariel Cobbert)

“These guys will make some very great plays at times and you can just see they have so much talent, and when you get going real fast, sometimes it’s tough on them,” Werner said. “But I think those guys are going to be right there with the rest of the crew.”

Lodge played sparingly last season; Jefferson was redshirted.

“At first, it was hard for me,” Jefferson said. “Coming in, I really didn’t expect to redshirt. I was really disappointed, but with prayer and God being on my side I just waited it out. I knew God was telling me to be patient. It was all worth it.”

During his redshirt year Jefferson saw significant improvement in the weight room. The redshirt freshman came in skinny and scrawny, but now is up to around 190 pounds.

At the running back position, Werner expects to see a lot more power, with Akeem Judd, Jordan Wilkins and Eric Swinney all competing to replace Jaylen Walton.

“We definitely had more guys run over defenders than we had probably in the last four years combined, and we are excited about that,” Werner said. “It’s nice when you call a play on third-and-three and you feel like you can hand it off. And it just seemed like we have always had sort of scat backs – we loved the backs we had – but they weren’t the type that you could just hand it off, and you know they are going to run over people and get you three yards.”

Werner said Swinney impressed him with the way he finishes his runs. Swinney made an impression this spring in being physical.

As for quarterback, Werner liked what he saw from freshman Jason Pellerin and Shea Patterson while they learned more and more of the offense. Werner said he is pleased with both quarterbacks and their progression this spring.

Werner iterated that senior quarterback Chad Kelly has taken a step forward this spring after his stellar performance in 2015.

“He just keeps getting better,” Werner said. “I mean he keeps on making good plays and hopefully that will keep going.”