Disappointing first day of pads
Most players are chomping at the bit to strap on the pads and get a chance to hit each other come fall camp. Head coach Tommy Tuberville said that his team a bit flat on Wednesday and thought the physicality was a bit lacking overall.
"Not a great practice, but not a real bad practice. It's a little disappointing when you've got a chance to hit somebody on the first day. We just didn't quite have the enthusiasm that I was expecting."
It's not that a day like this is out of place, but Tubs felt like his team would come out and beat up on each other after 2011's disappointments.
"First day of shoulder pads, and disappointed in the intensity. It looked like we had gotten the tempo the first couple of days, and today we kind of got in the routine and started feeling sorry for ourselves a little bit, which is normal, but it ain't normal for a team that got their butts whipped last year. If we're gonna win some games, we're going to have to coach and practice like a team that's going to win every game. We'll have a better practice tomorrow."
Running game, run defense to be emphasized
You don't have to go look up the stats to see that the Red Raiders run game dropped off after Eric Stephens early season injury. You also already know that Tech's run defense was one of the worst in the country. Tuberville said that both aspects will undoubtedly be heavily emphasized in 2012.
"We're going to be a better running team this year, we're going to work on it more, and we're going to stress it more. The passing game is going to be there, and defensively we've got to play better. Last in the country in stopping the run last year, and I know a lot of it was certain other problems, but we don't have those problems this year. We've got a lot more depth, guys that can practice, and guys that can play. We've just got to get them in the right frame of mind."
Flu bug hampers O-line
Starting left tackle LaAdrian Waddle and starting center Deveric Gallington both missed practice on Wednesday due to a flu bug making its way around. Tuberville wanted some of the younger linemen to take advantage of the opportunity, but the players seemed to be a bit caught offguard.
"Today we had a makeshift offensive line. We had three guys out on the offensive line that have got the flu, and a couple of defensive guys. That's what happens. I told the offensive line, hey you get somebody hurt, you've got to get ready to play and play like the guy in front of you. That's what we've been lacking. We've been lacking depth, and we've been lacking quality depth. You build that when you get a chance to go into the game. They had a chance to do that today, but they kind of got caught offguard a little bit. A lot of them are young, but that's what coaching is about and practice is about."
Starts moves to defensive tackle
With Anthony Smith, who has earned himself a new nickname, missing the next few weeks of practice due to a sprained ankle and scooter accident, true freshman Michael Starts will now slide in from end to tackle. It's a move that was likely inevitable according to Coach Tubs, and Starts is a guy that the head coach sees a lot of potential in.
"We moved him inside. He's so big, and he's got a lot of punch and a lot of power. With Anthony Smith, Crash, over there on the sideline, we had to move him inside. That's where he'll be. He's 300-something pounds. He's not quick enough off the corner at that size to make a difference. We need him more inside, and I think he'll give us something inside. He looked good, he just doesn't know what he's doing. We've got to coach the heck out of him and get him in better shape. He's only been here for three or four weeks."
It also appears that Starts will likely play this year. Tuberville would like to redshirt the big freshman, but he's happy to have a guy with his enthusiasm on the line.
"He's 18 years old. 18 year olds and freshmen should be standing on the sidelines drinking water during the game and wondering where their helmet is at, but we're going to have to call him to battle. I tell you what, I like his spunk. He jumped in and went after some of the offensive linemen today and just went by brute strength and not technique. That's what we've got to work on."