In the secondary that means players such as Neiko Thorpe, D'Antoine Hood and Harry Adams vying for the backup spots at cornerback while freshmen Mike Slade and Drew Cole are doing the same at safety. Former cornerbacks turned safeties, both Slade and Cole said they are making the transition fine heading into the 2008 season.
"It has been going pretty good," Slade said. "I moved to free safety in the spring. It was kind of a difficult transition at first but now I'm comfortable. Zac Etheridge has really been helping me out and teaching me and pushing me. Coach Rhoads has been on me as well. Things are going good so far, real good.
"I'm just trying to get better," Cole added. "I'm trying to find my way on the field this year whether it be on special teams or whatever. I just want to help the team out…I just want to give my best effort and find my way on the field this year."
Harry Adams had the only interception for the Tigers in Saturday's scrimmage.
Playing last season at cornerback while taking a redshirt, Slade made the move to safety in spring practice and it has been a good one for him. Playing safety in high school, the 6-2, 193 Slade said the toughest part of the preseason has been getting used to a new defensive scheme under coordinator Paul Rhoads.
"The toughest transition has just been overall not really moving to safety, but trying to learn the playbook and get coach Rhoads whole scheme down," Slade said. "That has probably been the toughest transition. Other than that things have been smooth."
With the second scrimmage in the books Cole said that he's focused on getting into a normal routine beginning with Monday's off day and classes starting. "I expected it to be rough," Cole said. "I expected my legs to get back under me a little faster but it has been all right. It has been about what I expected."
A veteran in the secondary, cornerback Jerraud Powers said both Slade and Cole had a good day on Saturday working with the second unit. With the two starters set, Powers said it's important to get some quality depth behind them.
"Mike made a couple of good plays today," Powers said. "I saw him break up on a ball that I thought he should have picked but he dropped it. Drew Cole was running around and making a few plays today. He had a chance to make a couple of plays that didn't go his way but he was flying around."
The star of the secondary on Saturday may have been Adams according to Powers. With an interception and several nice plays, Powers said it's good to see not only him but also Thorpe and Hood stepping up to provide that depth.
"Harry had a big pick," Powers said. "I was sort of excited because it was Harry. He's getting better every day. He's starting to look good and his knowledge of the game is improving every day. If he continues to get better these next few weeks it's going to give us some good depth.
"It's good," he added. "Walt didn't get any snaps today because he was sort of banged up a little bit. That was a good situation for us because something like that could happen down the road. Neiko came in and filled in and did a pretty decent job. If they continue to get better and gain confidence it's going to help us out as a secondary.