"It was a great day today," said fourth-year head coach Charlie Strong. "It's good to get back out here and get in the flow. We need to pick it up with our sharpness on offense and defense, but we saw some guys come out and make plays. Teddy made some good throws. DeVante and Quick made some good catches. It was just so fun to back around this football team."
Working in t-shirts and shorts, the Cardinals opened their first day of camp with an impressive intensity. The pace of the two-hour practice was non-stop throughout.
"I think it was a really fast tempo first practice," said senior linebacker Preston Brown. "You could see guys really feeling it at the start of practice, but we started to get used to the tempo again and start getting back in a rhythm. You could tell that it was like a mid-season practice."
While the returning players treated the practice as if it were mid-season, the incoming freshmen weren't ready for the faster paced practice.
"Freshmen don't really understand the tempo and our one's really do understand the tempo because they have been in this system for going on four years," Strong explained. "We have an older team, a veteran team. The freshmen, what they need to do is just pick it up, because they don't understand the pace and just how quickly it goes."
For many of the newcomers, the transition from high school to college will continue during the coming days as they develop a better understanding of the play book and become more accustomed to the tempo that is expected of them.
"They're still stuck in high school," said Brown. "You can see them running around and stopping on a play because they didn't know what they were doing. They were jogging and walking to the ball and we don't do that on defense. We are all running to the ball and having fun, that's how we play."
Prior to taking the field for the first time this season, Strong addressed his team and stressed the importance of approaching day one as the team's first opportunity to improve.
"I told them it's a work day today," he said. "That we need to come out and set the pace and that everyday we need to work to go get better. We can't waste a day, everything counts. We need to make a deposit, so we can withdraw later."
After day one, Strong was pleased with the work ethic the players brought to the field. Having been an assistant on multiple top ten ranked teams, Strong was asked if his group of Cardinals measure up to those teams in the past.
"It does, but there's still some work that we need to get done," he said.
The Cardinals will return to the practice field today at 5:15p.m. and it will be the final open session of fall camp.