“Big Cat” drill brings intensity to spring
Tigers go full pads at Saturday practice
Coach Studrawa barks commands to the offensive linemen during individual drills at practice Saturday. (Photo by Ben Love)
By BEN LOVE
Tiger Rag Acting Editor
After a week’s worth of practices in helmets, then shells (helmets and shoulder pads), LSU finally got the chance to strap on all the equipment Saturday as the team went full pads at the late-morning session.
Kicking off the practice - at least the part media was privy to - was an intense hitting drill Coach Les Miles calls the “Big Cat” drill.
In a nutshell, it’s a no holds barred contact drill pitting one teammate against another in a tight space (in between dummies laid on the ground) where there’s no wiggle room, just running straight ahead, hitting and driving through that person for some time … until Miles mercifully blows the whistle. (For an idea of how the set-up looks, check the first picture below.)
Cue the head man: “It is a one on one, man on man, aggressive drill. Went about six snaps, the defense got two, offense got two and there were a couple of ties. It is a great way to get practice started.
“It is a physical presence, body control and being able to dominate your opponent. It is strength and brute force. If I take your body back, I won. If you take my body back, you win.”
What benefits does Miles derive from the Big Cat?
“To me, it allows the competitive view of a physical interaction,” explained Miles. “Can we be a dominant, physical football team? If they can step in that drill and do well then they can be. I don’t know if I saw a missed tackle. I saw a push at the line of scrimmage and guys getting after the pass rush.”
Especially interesting was the final pairing of the drill, when WR Russell Shepard voluntarily stepped up with all kinds of excitement, determination and venom. Although Shepard - with his relatively slight frame - didn’t drive his opponent back, the constant fight to really slap the other guy on the helmet, scratch and claw was an impressive sight.
Football sports information director Michael Bonnette told me shortly after the drill that the Big Cat was “new this spring” and that although the team conducted the drill Thursday after reporters left, Miles “decided to let you guys see it today.”
After that, players broke into individual drills based on positions. I spent the majority of my time hawking the O-linemen, who were coached up by both Greg Studrawa and graduate assistant Ben Wilkerson (check the pictures below for Wilkerson putting the guys through practice).
The main purpose of the O-line drills I saw was to work on getting to the next level. In other words, two OLs would block one DL, with one of the OL really just chipping then getting to a linebacker that Wilkerson had moving in different directions.
One additional note: Several recruits from the Class of 2010 were on-hand for practice, including Notre Dame (Crowley) LB D.J. Welter.
Check back next week for more updates on the Tigers as they near the annual spring game on March 27.