Although University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football coach Russ Huesman downplayed the progression to a full-pads practice today, several players admitted it's a move they're eager for.
"A lot of guys are excited about full pads, no doubt," defensive lineman Derrick Lott said Saturday. "Defense especially. We've been waiting for a long time for this.
"Even the guys who were here all summer, all we talked about was the first day in full pads, so I think tomorrow will be loud. I can't wait to see who can man up once we put the pads on."
The Mocs have gotten progressively more physical the last two days, and even for shorts, helmets and shoulder pads, Saturday morning's practice got plenty physical at times, including the 6-foot-4, 303-pound Lott's hit on running back Derrick Craine. As Craine got to the line Lott hit him with just his chest, but the big man's momentum was enough to send the 5-10, 205-pound Craine straight to the turf.
On the next snap, Craine showed why coaches rave about his toughness as he hit a hole full speed on an inside run right past Lott.
"I couldn't stop my momentum, but Craine knows I love him," Lott said with a laugh. "I think he's a great back, but I just got going forward and couldn't stop."
The biggest hit of the day was true freshman linebacker Dale Warren blasting classmate Richardre Bagley. Warren's hit sent Bagley flat on his backside and had the entire defensive staff and players whooping loudly.
"That was a great hit by Dale," said Bagley, who's been one of the most impressive freshmen throughout preseason camp. "I love him to death, and he's going to be a great player. It's all in fun, but that was one heck of a hit."
One of the best competitions of the day came when the running backs worked on pass blocking against rushing linebackers. Senior backs Marquis Green and Keon Williams ended the drill by stopping a pair of pass-rushers dead in their tracks and not allowing them to get near the quarterback, which resulted in them talking a lot of trash.
"That's what makes practice fun, the competition," fullback Taharin Tyson said. "That's why I can't wait till we really get to hit so we can find out how physical a team we really are. We're about to see who's going to be a man tomorrow and who's going to wither."
Redshirt freshman receiver Alphonso Stewart made several nice catches during team drills, including one for a long touchdown. The Mocs have depth at receiver, but the 6-3, 190-pound Stewart is the biggest body and also has shown an ability to get behind the secondary at times.
"He's got a chance to be good," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "He's not there yet. He's got to learn to bend, come out of breaks, be a little more fluid. He's got a lot of ability. He can go up and get the ball. He's just got to be a polished receiver in a hurry."
Tull highly rated
Senior defensive end Davis Tull, a two-time All-America selection, is ranked the 28th best DE nationally, for all levels, on Phil Steele's most draft-eligible players. Tull is the only FCS player to make the list.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.