"We are doing a pretty decent job, but we are a long way from becoming a single unit," Summers said. "I see the effort and the toughness. We just need better execution."
Summers had praise for sophomore Seth Oxner. He said he isn't ready to name Oxner as a starter, but it's been clear that the Monticello product has taken almost every first team snap at center in his August battle with Wade Grayson, the number one center in the spring.
"He's done this August what he did in the weight room this summer, grind it out," Summers said of Oxner. "He has engaged himself in the learning process. I am impressed with his pass protection, but he needs to close the gap in the running game."
More and more, Grayson has joined in the rotation at weakside guard with Grant Cook.
"Seth has done a good job," Summers said. "If he continues to progress, he's going to be good. He has the size and the work ethic in the weight room. He had as good of an offseason as anyone on our team."
Another interesting battle has been weak tackle where returning starter Ray Dominguez has been slowed by an ankle injury. Grant Freeman has surged ahead with Dominguez often on the sideline over the last week. Both worked today.
"Ray's bad ankle has lingered longer than we thought," Summers said. "It's delayed his development and Freeman has stepped up. They rolled on Saturday and that continued today.
"At some point, we expect Ray to be healthy and we can then expect a whole lot more from him."
Summers is pleased with the way the second offensive line has stepped up. It's an imposing group physically. He's just not sure they know their jobs yet.
"It's an interesting group," Summers said. "They are so young that I'm not sure they know their assignments some time. They are big and they care. They try hard. They've made progress and I'm really proud of them."
Summers said the young players who have "caught his eye" in the offensive line are Travis Swanson, Alvin Bailey, Anthony Oden and Tyler Deacon. Deacon is a walk-on from Little Rock Christian.
"Zhamal Thomas has gotten better of late," Summers said of the junior college transfer. "He had a lull in the first week and had to work himself into condition. He's done better in the last week."
Oxner said practice Tuesday could have gone better in some areas, but he still said it was an "alright practice. I think the heat got us a little bit after two days off. I think we felt pretty good about it overall."
Oxner, who sports a huge tattoo on his right shoulder of an ox, said he's sure the battle with Grayson will continue.
"We've got to keep competing," he said. "Wade and I both know that. You never know what might happen."
Asked how he feels about his play, Oxner said, "It's a whole lot better than it was at this time last year. I know my assignments. Last year, I was sometimes skeptical on some of the calls I had to make."
One of the areas he's had to develop was to become more vocal on the field. "I can be one of the guys and talk off the field," he said. "But on the field, I probably wasn't as vocal as I needed to be. I'm better at that. I'm getting there."
The tattoo came after last season, just before Christmas. He said he did research to find the right likeness of what he thought an ox should be in a tattoo.
"I went on the Internet and found a bull image," he said. "I think that's what I think an ox should look like and I picked that. It had Taurus written underneath it and I replaced that with my name.
"Some people think a bull and a cow all look the same as an ox, but they aren't. An ox is bred to work."
Teammate Mitch Petrus said, "He's pretty proud of that tattoo. I think with that tattoo and his receding hairline -- he just finally shaved it all off -- and he puts sun glasses on, he looks like he's about 30."
Petrus said the team needs to do a better job of finding a routine. He said the start of classes means they probably aren't eating at the same hours or getting the same fluids.
"I think we got dehydrated today," he said. "Our focus has to be on finding that right routine now that school is in session. We will get that done."
The focus in Tuesday's practice changed a bit with the opener less than two weeks away.
"We didn't go against the ones like we've been in the first part of fall camp," he said. "The focus is on Missouri State and we saw more scout team stuff today. We are getting our assignments for the opener."
With that in mind, practice was closed to the public starting Tuesday. Media was allowed to watch the first 15 minutes of the workout. No injury list was provided, but among those on hand for the start of practice (not practicing Saturday) were wide receiver London Crawford, running back Broderick Green, safety Anthony Leon and cornerback Rudell Crim.
Green said the official diagnosis of his illness was pneumonia and not swine flu. He said he lost around 15 pounds during the week he missed practices.
"Luckily, I caught it in time and just had to get a couple of shots," he said. "I noticed it in practice. One day my head started hurting and I didn't feel good. I felt hot. It was after the scrimmage. I couldn't sleep at night and knew it was something and said something.
"I got down to 234. I was like 242 before."
Green knew he had to tell the trainers something was wrong, although he worried that he didn't need time off after missing some practices with a sore leg.
"I'd just missed a day or two with my hamstring and I felt like I didn't need anything else to slow me down," he said. "I wanted to tough whatever came. I tried to tough it out for a couple of days, but couldn't take it any more."
John L. Smith, special teams coach, said his units are not set in stone.
"We are looking at how many we have (on special teams) who are starters," he said. "We want to look at some young guys to see if some of those can give the starters a break. So there are always going to be some depth changes. It might be 80 percent set."
Smith liked what he saw of kicker Alex Tejada in the scrimmage.
"I thought he was looser and swung the leg better," he said. "He had one go off the goal post and another one was (a bad snap) and not his fault."
As far as the punting job, no decision has been made between juco transfer Briton Forester and freshman Dillon Breeding.
However, Smith said Forester has been "a little bit more consistent. He's been out in front of the crowds. As I've said all along, you really hate putting all your marbles on a freshman who has never been in a stadium like this in front of that many people. You'd like to break him in and bring him along a little bit slower."
The punt returner could be Michael Smith.
"You'd like to use Michael," John L. Smith said. "He'd like to do it. I think it would be a plus on his resume."