"Even without all those guys this defense looks really good right now."
The Ferris High graduate continued to try and push Tuel for his starting gig on Day 7 by completing deep passes to the freshman wide receivers.
The first came when he connected with Brett Bartolone down the sideline. Moments later, he launched another jump ball intended for wide receiver Gabe Marks some 40 yards down field. With cornerback Damante Horton blanketing him, Marks went airborne, securing the football before tumbling two yards into the end zone.
The highlight grab was just one in a long series of impressive plays made by Marks through his first week of fall camp.
HALLIDAY AND TUEL split reps evenly, each running with a lineup consisting of players from the first and second-team offense.
Tuel was especially sharp in skelly drills, looking off coverages numerous times before hitting his check downs for solid gains.
The defense finally responded from the brunt of the quarterback's aerial show during a competitive session of red zone drills.
Only Mike Leach threw in a twist.
WITH THE BALL placed inside the five-yard line, the offense received three chances to punch it into the end zone. If the defense held two out of three times, it was the victor. Should the offense score twice, then it would avoid the dreaded up-down drill.
The offense scored on the first play when Tuel, recently inserted back in with the No. 1 offense, found Bartolone uncovered in the end zone. The defense responded on the next snap when linebacker Travis Long bull-rushed two offensive linemen to pick up his first "sack" of the afternoon.
The momentum-shifting play sent the reserve defensive players lining the back of the end zone into a frenzy.
Tuel momentarily quieted the masses by threading a pass to Marquess Wilson just across the goal line, but cornerback Tracy Clark managed to jar the ball loose and Wilson couldn't hold on.
The play capped a spirited two-hour practice featuring a level of competition (and volume) that was the highest its been since fall camp began.
Meanwhile, safety Anthony Carpenter saw extensive time running with the starting unit in place of Tyree Toomer.
Carpenter said going nose-to-nose with an offense expected to be among the most explosive in the conference was invaluable. Perhaps, more importantly, he recovered from a blown coverage that allowed Bartolone to score on the first play of the red zone competition to help his defense record consecutive stops.