The defensive line got in contact work with one-on-ones vs. the offensive linemen and one of the players making a push for a starting spot is redshirt sophomore Mike Blanc, who position coach Don Dunn says should push junior Jake Ricks for first team status at noseguard. Blanc was projected to be play a major role in the 2007 defense, but was slowed by injuries.
"I feel good and the reason why I do feel good is my ankle is 100 percent and I am not worrying about any injuries," Blanc says. "I am just ready to get back on track and get better every day at two-a-days."
Commenting on the defensive line as a group, Blanc notes that junior tackle Sen'Derrick Marks leads a group with potential. "We have got the ability to be real good," he says. "Sen is already real good and he is showing us a lot. We have got a lot of potential--a lot of young guys who can make an impact."
Dunn says he likes the way the defensive line group is coming around. "We have a lot of good competition, which is what you need. We are getting to that point where we have enough kids that are pushing each other and they know they can't take a play off or a second off. If they do, they are going to be behind so that is a good thing."
Dunn adds, "This will be the real test getting into two-a-days so they don't hit a wall. They just have to keep concentrating and keep working. We have had a lot of good leadership. The older guys are really helping them along, telling them what to expect and what they have got to do."
On the other side of the football, offensive coordinator Tony Franklin notes that he generally likes what he is seeing, but wasn't thrilled with the number of dropped passes at the Thursday morning session, atypical of what has happened at the other sessions. "You are always going to have the days that drops come," he says. "Today was the first real drops day."
Commenting on what he has seen through six practices, Franklin says, "I feel really good if we can stay healthy. It is like every team in this conference, and every team in America, if you can get lucky and stay healthy you have a chance to be really good. I think we have a chance to be really good if we can stay healthy."
First team center Jason Bosley (strained back) missed a second straight practice. Ryan Pugh, the starting right tackle, moved in to center for the session putting Mike Berry at first team right tackle. First team left tackle Lee Ziemba, who missed practice with a knee problem, was back in action on Thursday.
Kodi Burns is shown at Thursday's practice.
Franklin says the competition for the starting quarterback job is a "really good one." Commenting on Kodi Burns and Chris Todd, he says, "It's a really good problem. It is the best problem I think I have had in my life. I have had a lot of problems, this is a really a good one. They are both good, they are both competitive, they both are good leaders, they both like each other. The team likes both of them. That's a really good problem so there is nothing negative about it at all. It is nothing but positive."
The coach says he hasn't decided when he will name a starter. "They are both going to play," he says. "They are both good enough to win."
In other news:
*The Tigers will practice again at 4:15 p.m. in shorts at the intramural field. The first scrimmage is Saturday morning at the stadium and it is close, head coach Tommy Tuberville says.
*Cornerback Jerraud Powers continues his impressive preseason camp. He picked off two passes on Thursday including a particularly impressive play on a short pass over the middle thrown by Kodi Burns.