Josh Freeman says he has a lot of love for University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football teammate Synjen Herren. But when the whistles blow for a drill, Freeman wants badly to beat him.
The Mocs went through their 13th spring practice Monday at Scrappy Moore Field -- a two-hour session with one-on-one drills, other live competitions and some scrimmaging as they prepare for their spring game Friday evening at 7. The coaching staff put the team through some situational drills as well, such as two-point and third-down conversions.
Herren is the usual sparring partner for Freeman, who went Monday in drills against Chris Mayes, a recent convert from the defensive line to the offensive line. They went 1-1 in their head-to-head battles.
"I think it's nice how we came out today," Freeman said. "We work hard and use every day to get better, which is what we do every day, so it's not that hard [to get motivated]. You love winning the drills: It feels great to win, and you always want to win because that competitive nature starts to come out."
Most of the quarterback repetitions went to rising sophomores Alejandro Bennifield and Tyler Roberson, but two-year starter Jacob Huesman showed some moxie in the pocket in limited action. All three made some impressive downfield throws -- some of which were caught by rising sophomore C.J. Board, who sad the locker room was going to be an interesting place after practice because of the battles he won against defensive backs Dee Virgin and Jerkerious Scott.
"We're getting to the end of spring practice and we're starting to get tired, but we have to be able to keep that intensity so we can come out and have a good spring game," Board said. "Before practice, the receivers and the DBs are always trash-talking each other to see who wins, so it's a competition for both.
"I won my battles, so they're going to get an earful when I get to the locker room."
Coach Russ Huesman said the added competitions in Monday's practice were by design. The team has one more practice Wednesday before the Blue & Gold Game.
"We'll need to get something out of them on Wednesday, because that's the one before the spring game," Huesman said. "We'll be in full pads and get after them pretty good.
"The guys can see the end of the road as far as spring practice goes, but I think they've practiced hard all spring and given a great effort. They're some really good workers and know what they have to do when they get out there. I'm pleased with how hard they've worked and the effort they've put forth."
The gates open at 5 on Friday, and there will be a free clinic beginning at 5:15 that is open to eighth-graders and younger. Free hot dogs and Coca-Cola products will be available, and the Mocs will receive their 2013 Southern Conference championship rings. The 2013 seniors will receive their rings at halftime; the returning players will get theirs after the game.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.