Practice Report: Sunday, August 10

There were plenty of changes as the Tigers practiced Sunday afternoon. For the first time, they practiced in full pads, and they practiced for the first time on the grass practice field rather than the turf at Faurot Field.

The full pads gave the coaches a better chance to look at the running backs and linemen, but coach Gary Pinkel is still stressing that defensemen hit high to avoid injury. For the most part, the team obliged. Junior college transfer Nino Williams had the hit of the day when he put a hard hit on Brad Ekwerekwu as he caught a pass over the middle.

The quarterbacks had their first chance to throw long, and Brad Smith had one of the better plays of the day when he threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Sean Coffey. Despite his 6-foot-5 frame, Coffey managed to split through the safeties undetected and Smith threw it two him at the 5-yard line.

Many of the running backs all had good days. Zack Abron got his first real chance to run over tacklers and Damien Nash showed good speed, especially on a touchdown run late in practice. Tyrone Roberson caught a screen pass and ran it for a touchdown, and Marcus Woods continues to impress with his speed and ability to shift directions.

Backup quarterback Sonny Riccio had another hard day, as the already gargantuan gap between he and Smith continues to grow. Other backups Brandon Coleman, Brett Weeks and Josh Arnold, have all struggled. Weeks and Arnold have been moved so that they only practice with the fourth-string offense, and Coleman usually only practices with the third-string offense.

Some of the better interceptions of the day came from Quincy Wade, Shirdonya Mitchell and Calvin Washington. Washington’s interception led to a scuffle on the west sideline.

Kickers Mike Matheny and Alex Petterson each made all of their kicks. Also on special teams, Woods has started to take kick returns.

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