With Knile Davis done for the season with an ankle injury, the Hogs turned to a "perimeter" drill to check out the young backs. Petrino uses the drill every fall. He takes out the two interior defensive tackles and replaces them with an offensive guard holding shell pads. The running plays were mostly outside the tackle, with a few passes sprinkled in to make sure the safeties didn't cheat.
The drill went 32 plays and most were solid runs by Walker and Fisher. The 230-pound Walker showed he can run down hill and turn the corner. His pad level improved as the drill progressed. Fisher showed a shfity nature and ability to make the proper cut. Both backs displayed great vision to see the proper cut and lane. The drill was full speed with tackling to the ground. Linebackers and safeties displayed solid tackling.
"Dennis is fine," McGee said. "It's no big deal. Ronnie threw up and that's why he wasn't out there."
That gave extra plays to the freshmen backs.
"We wanted to put some pressure on them," McGee said. "We wanted to see Kody finish a few more runs and as we went along, he did lower his shoulder. Kelvin showed that he's elusive. He can hit the cracks and seams.
"We still want Kody to get his pads lower. That's a concern for everyone, not just him. The only way to play this game is to lower your butt and release your hips. We hope Kody doesn't learn the hard way -- by taking a shot in the chest. He did lower his pads later in that drill and gave out some hits.
"Kelvin is a good running back. You guys all know that who have seen film of him from high school. He understands how to read the game. He knows what the weak linebacker is going to do on the wheel route. He gets things. He has knowledge. His father was a running back. In fact, I played with him. So he's been prepared for this."
McGee took a turn praising true freshman offensive tackle Mitch Smothers. Then, later line coach Chris Klenakis did the same thing. However, no one is saying the battle between Smothers and Jason Peacock for that weak tackle spot is done. Smothers is getting some time with the ones, but Peacock is battling back.
"Smothers is a really good player," McGee said. "He was well coached in high school and he is accepting coaching from Coach K. He does well in his technique and that's how he's earned reps with the ones."
Klenakis didn't show his hand on how he thinks the battles up front will turn out. When asked about Smothers, he had simple answers.
"We are just looking at different combinations," he said. "We are trying to grow our chemistry. We'll have Mitch with the ones in some situations, then Jason with the ones in other situations. We are mixing and matching it. That was the plan all along.
"Mitch has gotten better, no question about that.
"We are no where near where we need to be to win a championship, but we have made good strides. We need to keep making strides. We just have to keep working. We have to push and push to accomplish our goals."
Grant Cook is taking the snaps at weak guard, ahead of Brey Cook. Brey Cook had played mostly tackle in the spring, but has worked more at guard in fall camp.
"I like to have big bodies at guard," Klenakis said. "Brey Cook is a big kid. He's still going to take some tackle reps for us. We just want to get him a lot of different reps and we'll figure out what's best for our chemistry."
Klenakis praised the work of Grant Freeman at strong tackle.
"He's steadily gotten better," Klenakis said. "He's been consistently getting better. You can tell he takes a lot of pride in fighting for the job. You can tell he sees the opportunity.
"It's still early in camp. We have a couple of more scrimmages left before we make decisions. We are going to look at a lot of combinations in that time. You don't know what will happen during a season, so we want to be prepared for a lot of situations and try to get as many players ready as possible. That's always my goal in camp, to see everything and look at building chemistry with different combinations."
Klenakis is pleased with the development of Smothers, Brey Cook and Marcus Danenhauer, the three highly regarded freshmen in the new class.
"I like all of these freshmen," he said. "They have range, they are picking up things. They are learning the offense and have come a long way. They have responded well with what we have given them. But it's a big offense and there is a lot to learn still.
"We just want to push them every day. We want to have competition for every spot out there and we want everyone to be looking over their shoulder. That makes you better."
Klenakis said it's been a good battle each day with a talented defensive front.
"It's a challenge every day against those guys and that's what we need because that's exactly what we are going to see each week in the SEC," Klenakis said. "It's good to have that kind of work in practice. We are getting pushed."
Freeman is excited about the progress his group has made in the two weeks of fall camp.
"We knew what this was going to be like," the fifth-year senior said. "We knew it was going to be a camp of looking at lots of combinations and also that you would have to earn your position. It's every day. It's every play.
"What I try to do is be the kind of player that our team can count on at my position. We expect to be a good unit. And we know that every day you better do your best because someone is coming after your job. It's great competition."
Freeman knows that if the line does it's job, the yards will come. He saw more help on the way with Walker and Fisher in the perimeter drill Tuesday.
"Those guys are talented," Freeman said. "They are young, but they are good backs. They all run hard. They will stick it in there and get the yards. They are not timid. You saw that today."
There are good players stepping up everywhere. McGee praised the tight ends. He said Chris Gragg, Colton Miles-Nash and Austin Tate have all stepped up.
"Gragg is coming on," McGee said. "He's a good route runner and his blocking has come on. Colton has great hands. So we have options there. I'm proud of the way the tight ends are coming to the meeting room. Colton gives us an advantage blocking in the perimeter game because he has the size and ability of the defensive ends we see. We can run the outside zone play with him. Tate has some skills. He's gotten faster and quicker and done a good job."
The wideouts have a competitive situation, too.
"We've seen good things from younger players like Javontee Herndon and Marquel Wade," McGee said. "I mentioned this in the offensive meeting room. You need to be competitive each day and Wade might be as competitive as we have at that position."
McGee didn't provide any clues on the quarterback competition.
"I think you guys will hear (the starter) about the time we play the first game," McGee said. "They have done good job. I really like how they come to the meeting room. They have seen the film before I get there and they already have questions about what had happened the previous days. They utilize every second. They show up with questions and they know that's how I like it."