Physical football has returned to Nippert Stadium.
During the Mark Dantonio era you knew spring practice would be a physical test as bodies slammed against other bodies at a constant pace. Those hard rugged practices left the field turf of Nippert Stadium during the Brian Kelly era, but have now fully returned.
All day long things got a little chippy between offensive and defensive players as they battled. Be it one-on-one drills or team drills the Bearcats had pads popping and battles started to brew between teammates. Butch Jones wouldn't have it any other way.
"I think it's our philosophy as a coaching staff and it's our programs philosophy. I don't thinks it has anything to do with what's gone on in the past. It's just the way we conduct our business and that's the way we're going to play. Those are our demands and those are our expectations."
While Jones is happy with some areas of his team, he knows things are not ready for prime time.
"I liked our tempo as our offense picked it up and I like the mentality right now our defense has. Right now offensively, we're still not executing the way we need to. We have way too much talent on offense right now with it being practice seven not to execute our offense."
The struggles on Wednesday were very evident as the defense placed extreme pressure on the offensive line and quarterbacks struggled to get balls out to receivers. On several occasions balls were batted down by defensive linemen as offensive linemen failed to keep defenders hands down. This joined a few sacks and rushed throws.
At one point the tight ends were not doing what was needed and senior offensive lineman Jason Kelce has seen enough. Kelce, one of the teams main veterans lit into his teammates for their lack of focus and demanded things get on the right track. Coach Jones had nothing but praise for his senior offensive guard.
"Jason Kelce is a very passionate individual and he takes great pride in what he does. You know the best teams that win have peer pressure. They don't want to let each other down and one of our goals this spring is to develop our leadership. Who is going to be our leaders? It's our job to teach them leadership qualities but we're also looking for who our leaders are. I expect seniors to step up and Jason is an individual who's been through a lot in this program. He's been very successful and paid his dues."
From the time Kelce let his feelings known, other Bearcats started to show some signs of life.
Much like the spring practices under Dantonio the return of the yellow and green jerseys have returned. Several players are nursing injuries and are being held out of drills or taking part in only select drills. Most of these injuries seem to be minor in nature but is showing the players nothing else but being physical will be accepted.