The Tigers had more than a half hour of 11-on-11 work after spending a good portion of practice installing offensive plays and going over assignments defensively.
"It was a good practice today," junior wide receiver Jaylon Denson said. "We got to see a lot of different things to see where we are at. On Friday we will come in and correct things and on Saturday we will strap it up."
The Tigers will have their first major scrimmage of the spring on Saturday.
Denson said the Wednesday session was a physical practice as the Tigers were "let loose" to go full speed in game-type situations.
Jaylon Denson is hoping for a breakout season.
The junior noted he feels like he is making progress. "I am working to be one of the guys the offense can count on," he said.
Asked about how quarterbacks Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace are doing with the new offense, Denson said, "They have done better than I expected they would. Kiehl did it in high school so I expected him to do real good. Jonathan is doing really well--way better than I thought he would. He is picking up on it real, real fast."
Kiehl Frazier throws a pass in Wednesday's practice as running backs coach Tim Horton watches.
Another junior, tight end C.J. Uzomah, agreed with Denson about Wednesday's practice being one that gave the players a chance to get physical.
One-third of the way into the allotted 15 days of practices, Uzomah said the Tigers have made progress, but are a work in progress. "At the first practice we didn't know what to do, where to go, where to line up," he said. "Now we know where to line up and we know our assignments. It is just a matter of getting there in a timely fashion."
Uzomah said that the Tigers had an intense session on Wednesday. "It was really physical. We really got after it. We have a downhill running attack. Me having to go against Dee Ford, Nosa Eguae and all of the defensive ends is a battle every day, but that is going to help us."
The tight end said he believes the team is looking forward to Saturday's major scrimmage. "We are all amped about it,"?he said. "We are all ready to get out there and show what we have got. We are going to get after it."
Uzomah said that he and the other upperclassmen on offense who have played in the Malzahn system are helping the younger players learn their assignments. "I think because the older guys are helping the younger guys, we are meshing real well," he stated.
Asked if players are separating themselves from others as the Tigers work to build a depth chart, Malzahn said, "It is hard to say right now. The great thing about football is all 11 guys have got to do their jobs to look really good offensively or defensively. Sometimes when you are learning to play together, learning your assignments, it is hard to pick certain individuals out without dissecting the film and all of that."
The Tigers will return to the practice field on Friday with plenty of work to do, the head coach said. "The main thing is we are trying to get them to think like we want them to think, play like we want them to play with everybody giving great effort with great body language, and mental and physical toughness.
"We are straining them," the coach added. "They are out of their comfort zone, which is good. After five (practices) down, we should start seeing improvement."
Malzahn added, "We are getting them out of their comfort zone and a lot of times when you do that you find out a whole lot of information. That is the point we are at in the spring right now."
Tailback Cameron Artis-Payne runs into defensive backs T.J. Davis and Trent Fisher (left).
Commenting on the upcoming scrimmage, Malzahn said, "It will be a great evaluation day...We are going to try to mix and match some groups and see how they respond. We just want them to compete and see how they play."
In other news and notes:
*Juco transfer guard Devonte Danzey is cross-training at center behind returning starter Reese Dismukes. Alex Kozan, a redshirt freshman guard, is also working at center. "We are trying to double-teach them and see who our number two center is," Malzahn said. "We will see how that thing goes. You have to have depth at center and you have to have depth at quarterback to run your offense."
*Dismukes, a two-year starter, said he is trying to be a leader on the offensive line. "Last year I was a vocal guy for the O-line and, obviously, I am trying to do that again this year, and be more of a leader for the whole offense," he said after Wednesday's practice. "That is the way I view myself, and that's the way it's going to be. I am going to be the leader of the offense, as much as I can be.
"Obviously, the leader is the quarterback, and that's who runs the show, but I'm going to do as much as I can to help our team in that way," added Dismukes, who did his first interview since being arrested on a public intoxication charge prior to the 2012 season opener vs. Clemson.
The center was suspended for the opening game last season. Fellow junior lineman Chad Slade said that he has seen his teammate mature. Dismukes said that is the case. "It definitely made me grow up a lot," the center said. "I made some mistakes, and that's a good thing and a bad thing. It made me grow up a lot, which I needed, and I mean, it just opened my eyes to a whole new world and made me focus more on this team and just being the best I can be for this university."
More Practice Notes And Discussion: