"The challenge was for us to have just as spirited, if not more spirited practice. And it happened. So that was really good," Cabral said.
The NCAA mandates how many of the 15 spring practices can be in pads, how many can be in pads with full contact, and in pads without full contact. Sunday's drills will be a pads/non-full contact affair.
"They're really ready to go in pads," Cabral said. "They're starting to knock each other down. Tomorrow will be a no tackle day. It'll be full pads no tackle, so we'll get a lot of technique done."
Cabral also reiterated what he and others have said in recent weeks: After all the off-the-field controversy that's swirled in the media since early February, the players are relishing the chance to do what they know best. Play football.
"I think the enthusiasm and the attitude and the focus is so much greater because of the events that happened," Cabral said. "Football, for our guys, is a way of life. And this has been a haven for them. This is where they're at home. They're so happy to be here.'
To date, the fallout from the so-called scandal firestorm has not resulted in any players leaving the team. When asked about that, Cabral said, "To our players' credit, that has not happened. What is happening, these guys are drawing closer together. They already feel that they are a lot closer team than they were a year ago. That's a big step."
And he once again voiced what many have quietly been saying in recent days as spring practices approached.
"This team, I believe, is going to do something special," Cabral said.
J.J. Billingsley will see limited action for the first two weeks of spring practice, recovering from a knee injury. The junior safety could see more live action later in spring ball, Cabral said.
"We'll see him before the spring is out," he said. "As soon as they say he's ready. We're going to be cautious with that. But we'll see him before the end of the spring."
Cabral also said they will be cautious with senior defensive lineman Marques Harris, who is back earlier than expected after suffering a broken leg in Game 2 last season.
"He's so far ahead of schedule, but we want to make sure we handle that the right way and protect him," Cabral said. "We'll give him a little bit more every week. We'll see how much he actually ends up doing by the end of spring."
A handful of players had to leave practice early to participate in the wedding ceremonies of graduating Buff Medford Moorer, who married Mandy Ament in Boulder Saturday. Many who didn't leave practice early scurried away from practice after it finished so they could make it to the reception.