After five days Mackovic seems pleased with the performance of the team, especially the freshmen. A new NCAA rule mandating an acclimation period has been very successful in the eyes of the coach.
"I feel good about this five day acclimation period," Mackovic said. "I don't know what other coaches around the country think about it, but I think it's worked its purpose. It's given us an opportunity to go at a pace that is quick enough and yet not have the guys so worn down the first week that they are fatigued."
In the past the newcomers got a few days to work by themselves but the new rule has all the players reporting at the same time. This has meant that the young players have to hit the ground running. Mackovic says that this trial by fire has been good for the new guys.
"It is my opinion that our freshmen would never be as far along in what they were doing if we were just practicing by themselves," Mackovic said. "I am really satisfied that they have learned more, they're jumping in and doing more than they ever would have done if they were working by themselves."
Things were not all good for the team. John Parada went down hard and limped off the field. He came back with ice on his left knee. The injury does not appear to be serious, but the same cannot be said about Tanner Bell. The team still has no diagnosis on his injured knee and won't know for a few days. He was on crutches during Sunday's workout. Despite having two linemen limping on the sidelines, Mackovic said he isn't overly concerned yet.
"We have a little more depth this year," said Mackovic. "I do know that you have to keep your feet going and you have to be in good shape. More often than not someone gets hurt when he is a little bit fatigued and lets up."
Cedric Cofer was also held out of practice. The defensive lineman missed most of last season with stress fractures in his shin and the leg was very sore after the first four days of practice. Cofer was in a boot and will miss some time as a precautionary measure.
On a better note, Andre Torrey returned to practice after missing Saturday night's practice with a cut foot. Torrey cut his foot with a pair of scissors while removing tape. Trainers padded him up and he was able to practice without discomfort.
The quarterbacks looked sharp in 7-on-7 drills. Ryan O'Hara was 6-7 in the drill and his lone incompletion was a dropped ball by Matt Padron. He and Biren Ealy connected on a long pass where the sophomore receiver made a great adjustment, stepped in front of Jason Martin to make the grab.
It is clear that O'Hara and Ealy are quickly developing a rapport. The two worked together in the offseason and it has paid off so far in camp.
Mackovic says that there is little change in the quarterback race and that no favorite has emerged.
"There's not much difference," Mackovic said. "They are reading a lot, we're doing a lot and we'll be adding a bunch of stuff in the next day or two. Really they are doing about the same as they were."
The teams went 11-on-11 at the end of practice and it was a very balanced effort. O'Hara moved the team fairly well but the defense did not allow any big plays. NOTES
*John Rattay has been to every practice. The injured quarterback is facing the very real possibility that his career is over, but has told the coaching staff that he'd like to be around the team and help out however he can.
*Likewise, Fata Avegalio may not play again but he's serving as a student coach.
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