The first day of camp is usually about players just getting their feet wet and trying to find a rhythm to how each practice will play out. That wasn't the case Friday as Todd Graham was surprised at how far along the team already was in their development.
"I thought there would be a lot more corrections. I thought there would be a lot more having to stop and teach," Graham said. "That was the best first day that we’ve had in any fall camp since I’ve been here."
The morning session was only for veteran players, while the newcomers will practice separately on Friday evening. Even though the team wasn't in full pads, Graham raved about the mental ability of the defense to zero in on what they needed to do.
"The defense ran to the ball better than they ever have. We had the best effort, the best focus," Graham said. "Our focus has to be the best in the country and I feel like after today, after that first practice, you can check that one off."
The maroon and gold may have been on target in day one, but Graham acknowledged that it is far from perfect and defense and special teams will be points of emphasis in the first two weeks. The Mesquite, Texas native also mentioned that there are still an abundance of open positions on the defense to fill, but for the first day he was content with where the team is at.
"We have to adapt what we're doing to the players skills that we have," Graham said. "It (practice) was pretty crisp which tells you that these guys have prepared really well."
- Graham said defensive lineman Sean O'Grady is no longer on the team. Jaxon Hood was also not at practice. Graham said that he was taking care of some, "personal issues" but was, "in good standing."
- JUCO transfer and defensive back Kweishi Brown, despite being a "newcomer," ran with the veterans in the morning practice. Graham said he had to learn 17 new techniques this morning and had glowing remarks about how physical and fast Brown is. He also mentioned they will give Brown a look returning kicks and punts.
- Marcus Ball was still in a green no-contact jersey but Graham said the staff is, "just being cautious."
- Eriquel Florence was not dressed out. Freshman linebacker D.J. Calhoun and defensive lineman and JUCO transfer Edmond Boateng, both early enrollees who participated in spring practice, have been placed in separate groups. Boateng is with the veterans while Calhoun is with the newcomers.
- Graham said De'Marieya Nelson got a look at Devilbacker today.
- The three biggest areas of concern according to Graham: WILL linebacker, defensive three-technique and Devilbacker. He also mentioned the Devilbacker may look different this season, playing more like an outside linebacker.
- Athletic Director Ray Anderson and Senior Associate Athletic Director Scottie Graham were both in attendance this morning
- Jamil Douglas looks a lot leaner, seems like he's gained some muscle and trimmed down a little.
- The only thing Graham didn't like? Two interceptions on offense in practice today.
- These players love to have fun too. I interviewed Lloyd Carrington one on one after practice. Both offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and defensive lineman Marcus Hardison came up during the interview trying to get Carrington to laugh and lose his train of thought.