Tigers conclude spring workouts
Published 8:49 am Wednesday, February 25, 2004
By By BRUCE HIXON Sports Editor
Ask any Alabama high school football coach if they accomplished everything they needed to do during spring practice and the answer will usually be a resounding no.
Count T.R. Miller Tigers coach Jamie Riggs in that group.
At the same time Riggs feels good about what his team accomplished during its two-week traing camp, which concluded with Friday's 34-32 Red win over the White in the team's annual scrimmage game.
"I think we accomplished the things we needed to do. As a coaching staff, we would have liked to have inserted a few more plays into our offensive scheme. We weren't able to do any work at all with our special teams. There is just so much you can do during these two weeks," Riggs said.
Mother Nature rained on the Tigers during most of the first week, but sunshine returned for most of last week's workouts.
"Even though the weather was lousy that first week, I still think we got a lot done. It helped us determine who was ready to play and who wasn't. We were also able to get some positions lined up for next fall," Riggs said.
The T.R. Miller lineup, especially on the offensive side, will take some big hits because of graduation. Perhaps the biggest area that will be under the microscope will be the line where the Tigers will have to replace most of their starting unit.
"I feel a lot better about our line after the spring workouts. We had some players really step up and establish themselves," Riggs said.
The T.R. Miller coach said junior Michael Mashburn, who is one of the few returning linemen, along with juniors Steven Robinson and James Hildreth emerged as the top contenders for guard spots, while juniors David Stokes, Tyler Chapman and Quentin Rogers had good workouts as tackles. Sophomore Brooks Fussell and Justin Marshall got extensive work at center.
"Michael is a rerturning starter and he'll fit into the mix somewhere. Steven had an excellent two weeks during our workouts. Quentin did not play last year, but he had a good spring practice," Riggs said.
For the first time in four years, T.R. Miller will not have Trent Davidson at the tight end spot. Sophomore Jason McCreary, sophomore Wade McCall and junior Tyler Shehan battled for that spot during the workouts.
"That spot is really up in the air. They all had some good moments," Riggs said.
The quarterback spot may also not be determined for a while. Sophomore Antonio Gomez and Jordan Cauley are probably the top two contenders although Riggs said freshman Baxley Raines was not far behind.
"Antonio has been a backup quarterback the last couple of years, while Jordan and Baxley both got a lot of reps last year at the B team level," Riggs said.
Sophomore Tim Atcher is T.R. Miller's most experienced returning running back. Sophomores Briddell Jones and Nick Puryear also figure to see some work. Riggs added junior Keath Turner and Nykeem Barton got a lot of work in at fullback during spring workouts.
T.R. Miller was without some of its key skill people, mainly at wide receiver, during the workouts.
On the defensive side, Riggs said the Tigers will use many of the same players on both sides of the ball.
"Mashburn has proven he can play and Rogers started some as a sophomore," Riggs said. "We had some other players step up in those positions. Barton had a good spring at nose guard and (sophomore) Hayes Peace played well in that spot in the Red/White Game," Riggs said. "(Sophomore) Julius Harris missed our first week of practice, but both he and Rashad Taylor could factor into the nose guard spot down the road."
One of T.R. Miller's most experienced areas next season will be its linebacking crew.
"We pretty much have everybody back. Shehan and McCall probably had the best springs among our linebackers. (Freshmen) Becker Denton and and McCreary got some time in those spots and we moved Justin Marshall to outside linebacker," Riggs said.
Like wide receiver, T.R. Miller was missing some of its key figures in the secondary.
"Out of the kids we did have, Briddell Jones and Travis Holland both had nice springs and Antonio Gomez got some work in that area," Riggs said.