By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It's always a different feel when the pads come out at fall camp. Sure, there's been plenty of work done through the first four days of workouts, but on Tuesday, when the Tennessee Tech football team strapped in for the first time this fall, things just seemed to be ramped up a bit.
"This is one of those tough, physical weeks," said Golden Eagle head coach Dewayne Alexander. "We had a full padded practice today, we'll have another one tomorrow, another one on Friday, then scrimmage on Saturday night. This right here is where you really want to see the new faces, the new guys, as to how they're responding to contact.
"The first few days were good for them when they were in shorts and helmets, but then it becomes the physical aspect of it. We got to see some of that today."
The best thing for Alexander was that he saw progress on both sides of the ball.
"The biggest thing that sticks out to me through the early days of camp is that we are much better up front on both sides of the ball," he said. "Our front seven are much more physical, watching middle drill, inside drill. There's more physicality with our offensive and defensive line. There's more of a physical presence there and it sounds like football practice is supposed to sound.
"The second thing is overall team speed. We are faster at positions. There is more of a big-play capability on offense. Defensively, there's the ability to make plays because we have guys who are a step closer to being there when the ball is batted into the air. We created turnovers during our team work. Offensively, a lot of explosive plays have happened."
Alexander continued, "It's good to see that on both sides of the ball, whether it's explosive offensive plays or turnovers for the defense. They had plays that would have been pick-sixes or fumbles. That was a big emphasis for us in the offseason – get more physical up front, get faster and create more big-play possibilities on both sides of the ball.
"The good news is, so far, I am seeing flashes of that from this team."
That growth becomes even more of a positive considering the length of time the newcomers have worked with their new teammates as there was a large contingent present for workouts during the summer, allowing them more time to learn from their fellow Golden Eagles.
"Having these guys here in the summer really helped," Alexander said. "To get our freshmen and newcomers here and give them that opportunity has been a major undertaking and I thank our administration for that. Our football alumni and all the people that raised the money to allow us to do that, it's huge.
"These guys were here for three-and-a-half, four weeks and got the opportunity to know their teammates personally, then get the meeting time we're allowed to have with them to be further ahead when we have our first day of practice. We got a better idea of who's supposed to be where. Then there's all of our returning players and we have so much carry-over from fall to spring to summer to fall. That makes a big difference."
Camp continues through Friday, Aug. 23, at Tucker Stadium and all sessions are open to the public. Tech will host its first scrimmage on Saturday night at 6 p.m.
Season tickets for the 2019 Golden Eagle Football season are on sale now. Contact the ticket office at (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information