Mixon spent time with the No. 2 defense, manning the safety position alongside Christian Bass. Mixon, a JC All-American expected to contribute significantly this season, has a lot of work to do before the opener Sept. 1 at Wisconsin, head coach Bill Doba said.
"He's still struggling quite a bit and he hasn't picked up the tempo yet," Doba said. "He's got a long way to go. Let's put it that way."
Doba also made it clear that it is difficult to tell when Mixon will be ready for game action, since he hasn't practiced since the beginning of fall camp.
But Doba was pleased with the return of Mattingly, a likely starter at outside linebacker, but cautioned that any player newly back from being out for an extended period isn't ready for a game situation right away.
"If you don't practice, then you go out and play bad in the game, (and) they blame the coach," Doba said with a laugh.
After a somewhat sluggish practice on Tuesday, Doba said he thought the team competed much better Wednesday.
One of the sideline observers of the action was former Cougar head coach Jim Walden, who will team up again this season with Bob Robertson in the Cougar broadcast booth.
WITH OFFENSIVE lineman Dan Rowlands and defensive tackle Aaron Johnson each sitting out the practice with what appeared to be non-serious tweaks, some young guns worked with the first team Wednesday.
In place of Rowlands was true freshman Andrew Roxas, a 6-1, 295-pounder from Sun Valley, Calif. Johnson was replaced with junior Matt Eichelberger, who saw a considerable amount of playing time last season when injuries hit the defensive line.
Safety Alfonso Jackson (concussion) remained in street clothes, so sophomore Xavier Hicks joined the No. 1 defense.
The defense controlled most of a simulated scrimmage, with sophomore defensive end Kevin Kooyman recording a sack on Rogers.
Junior cornerback Devin Giles got in the act and nearly picked off a Brink pass intended for Finas Rabb. Brink later threw an interception right into the chest of safety Husain Abdullah, who still dons the yellow no-contact jersey because of an injured shoulder.
Brink did show his mobility a couple of times as he escaped sacks on two different occasions, drawing praise from quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach.
Brink also fired two TD passes -- one to junior tight end Ben Woodard and another to receiver Charles Dillon who made a nifty adjustment to offset the tight defense of Giles.
Running back Dwight Tardy scored a pair of TDs in short yardage situations. The offense ended the day on a positive note when Rogers ran for a touchdown.
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