“In the AM practice the veterans obviously knew what was going on,” Miles said. “The pace of the practice was good. The quarterbacks played well. Receivers have been here and played pretty well.
“As far as the afternoon practice, I think this freshman class is going to be a really good class. A number of guys stood out. Receivers, corners, offensive linemen, defensive linemen. I like the way Jordan Jefferson learns. He picks it up pretty quickly. He’s a long ways away from being ready to play but he’s getting there.”
While Miles was very pleased with Jefferson’s first day of work, he made sure to keep everything in perspective regarding the freshman quarterback.
“Well I think it’s a little premature to be giving him the starting spot,” Miles said. “But we’re very optimistic about him. I can’t imagine redshirting any big quarterback.”
“I liked them,” said the headman. “They had a good command of the offense and understood what’s going on. We really didn’t miss a beat. We put so much more in for our first practice than we did a year ago, and we’re really ahead. We’ll rotate our offense to get a good chunk in each practice. ”
Miles was also very pleased with the overall shape of the team as they reported to fall camp, citing only one player that he felt still had a little more conditioning work to do.
“The heaviest guy on our team made his sprint test,” he said. “He didn’t really gain that much body fat. We’re going to give him the chance to lose some weight, but frankly he’s not that far away. And that’d be Herman (Johnson). The overall shape of the team is pretty good.”
Another position surrounded by question marks heading into the 2008 season is punter, following the graduation of Patrick Fisher. Miles said two players are competing for the punting job at this point.
“I think there’s some competition there with (Josh) Jasper and (Brady) Dalfrey,” he said. “Dalfrey’s leg is so strong. He hit a couple punts this morning that really showed his great leg.”
Fortunately the defense will not be changing much despite that loss.
“I can tell you that it’s the same defense,” said Miles. “It’s been the same defense for years.”
A few of the players commented after the morning practice that they were surprised how much was implemented in the first day. Miles also acknowledged the amount of content in today’s practices and was impressed with how well the team seemed to be picking it up.
“We put a lot in today,” he said. “We did virtually the same thing with the freshmen as we did with the varsity. Obviously they don’t get it as fast, but we put some veterans in there with them to help them pick it up better. I was really impressed with the amount that was retained.
“The tempo of this morning’s practice was really good. In the afternoon we were more focused on coaching. It was a pretty strong practice. I kind of anticipated the guys that had been here all spring and all summer were going to catch on. I was surprised though at how well Jordan Jefferson did. He really had a nice afternoon.”
Ever since he stepped on campus as a freshman last fall, Chad Jones has been one of the most talked about names on the team. Miles said fans should have even more reasons to be talking about him in 2008.
“I think there’s always competition at the safety spot for him (Jones),” Miles said. “But any snaps where he is not in the game are mistakes. We have got to play him. I think that’s the plan and those mistakes will not be made.”
The only scholarship player that was not at either practice today was wide receiver Ricky Dixon.
“Ricky had a little medical issue, but nothing that’s terribly serious,” Miles said. “It’s nothing that’s going to keep him out of multiple practices, but something that needed to be taken care of. It’s a sensitive issue.”
Even though Dixon was not at practice to guide them, Miles saw plenty he did like in the young wide receivers.
“I can tell you right now our receiving crew is really good,” he said. “Tim Molton made a nice play on a very deep ball. DeAngelo Peterson is a big strong guy that uses his hands well.”
Miles also addressed Charles Alexander’s progress coming back from his season ending knee injury last year.
“He practiced well,” Miles said. “His weight is up but his body fat is down, so I’d say he’s in pretty good shape.”
The Tigers will have split squad practices Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before going through their first practice as a team on Friday. Miles will meet with the media again Wednesday evening following the afternoon practice.