``It was real strange,'' linebacker Jerod Mayo said. ``I still couldn't hit ‘em. I was like, `Awe, I don't want them to take my scholarship.''
Mayo said teammate Ryan Karl hit Ainge as Ainge slid to the ground. Karl bounced up as if to say, ``I didn't mean it.''
``He (Karl) was scared,'' Mayo said. ``He was like, there goes my scholarship.''
Mayo said the defense, which lost six starters among the front seven, is coming together quickly.
``We've got a lot of people that have played, but not started,'' Mayo said. ``In the secondary, we've got four excellent (defensive backs). The front four is pretty good. The linebackers are pretty young, but we're learning each and every day.''
Mayo hopes to prove defensive coordinator John Chavis correct when Chavis said he thinks the linebackers will be better this season than they were last season.
``We really did take it to heart,'' Mayo said. ``Talent wise, we're pretty equal with them. But we still have to catch up to them mentally.
``We feel like we're in great shape right now. WE have to take the stuff we learned from the weight room and apply it to the football field.''
SEARS SAID OL WEIGHT LOSS IS EVIDENT
Offensive tackle Arron Sears said it's evident that the line is more mobile and agile after losing weight last season.
``Yes, definitely it's been evident,'' Sears said. ``Being out in this hot heat and all the conditioning we've been doing is definitely showing.
``We've been able to get out there on the perimeter (on screens and sweeps) and make great plays and great blocks.''
Sears does not think the weight loss will affect the line's ability to get a push.
``No, I don't see that,'' Sears said. ``We've been practicing for a week and a half and I can't tell that we're less physical.''