"I thought the defense did an excellent job today," Tedford said of the first day in full pads. "When we worked down in the red zone, I thought the defense did a great job of rallying to the ball. I see a lot of carryover from drill work with turnovers and people getting after the football. I am very pleased with the defense; typically this early in the game, the defense is ahead of the offense. I was pleased with everybody's effort, but I thought the defense really showed up today."
The defense was aggressive the entire afternoon with senior Bernard Hicks standing out with a pair of interceptions, and redshirt freshman Ernest Owusu looking good off the line. True freshman linemen Trevor Guyton and Aaron Tipoti also had solid afternoons. Junior defensive back Jesse Brooks continues to have a solid camp, breaking up one pass with a diving play and also registering a tackle in the backfield and a quarterback hurry.
"I'm just playing real hard right now," said Brooks. "That's all I can do out here in practice – taking it slow and going through my progressions. Camp has been going pretty well. We covered a lot in the spring and we're making the little adjustments out here right now. We're going slowly right now, but once we settle in, we'll be fine."
The media focus following the practice was on tailback Jahvid Best. The sophomore missed the last three games of 2007 and did not play in the spring due to a hip injury, but he showed no ill effects in his first day of full-contact drills. In addition to his well-publicized speed, Best showed added power, hitting the pile hard and bouncing to his feet each time.
"Jahvid took a couple of big hits today and that's good for him," Tedford said. "That's why you have to practice like that. We have some guys that are fairly new, it's important that you practice at game tempo so they can experience that.
"You have to have game tempo; you have to let them play football sometimes. They're always trying to stay under control and practice at the right tempo, but it really helps to let them play, and let them play fast."
Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory was also pleased with the first day of full-contact drills.
"It was a good first day," Gregory said. "We did some live stuff and the guys flew around well and executed fast, which is always good to see, especially with the new little wrinkles we have. We're trying to do red zone work every day. They really like that. It gets the blood-flow going and the energy level up, on both sides.
"We're just looking for guys executing the scheme and their techniques as best we can, without thinking too much. We tried to keep things basic to keep us playing fast today."