MEMPHIS, Tenn–In terms of what the first day of preseason camp is – a day working out in helmets and light gear – the University of Memphis got about all it could out of the day at the Billy J. Murphy Athletic Complex on Monday.
“We moved around. Obviously there are some young guys out there that are not exactly sure where to go or what to do but I was pleased with our attitude and our effort,”said Justin Fuente, who enters his third season as the Tigers’ head coach.
“The bottom line is there are not a lot of teams in America who do not have a great first day,” he said. “As you get through the two-a-days and then through the season, it is the guys who are left standing that are the ones still working to get better.”
Like Monday, practices in the same gear which lie ahead on Tuesday and Wednesday, will allow for important but limited opinions to be formed by Fuente..
“I was pleased with the retention level from some of the older guys,” Fuente said of Monday’s practice which consumed just over two hours. “I thought we took coaching better than what we have taken before.”
Memphis’ second practice of the season – Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Murphy Complex – is open to the public. It will be the only access for the general public to watch practice prior to Fan Fest and the team’s mock game on Aug. 23 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Tuesday’s practice will look much like Monday’s workout.
“We will get out there and get after it,” Fuente said. “We will install some things on special teams. It will be a little more pass oriented because they don’t have any pads on yet.”
During his post-practice press conference on Monday Fuente was asked about positions where battles for starting spots may exist as well as individual playing time. Instead of speaking about positions and player competition, Fuente focused on the team aspect of football.
“Who is the starter and who plays a lot is not really a big concern,” he said. “It is how many guys do we have on both sides of the ball and special teams that we can trust to do the right thing on a consistent basis.”
It is that number and its growth which will be pivotal the 2014 season.
The Tigers will practice in shells, which includes shoulder pads, on Thursday before the team’s first full-pad practice on Friday.
Memphis opens its season Aug. 30 when the Tigers play host to Austin Peay.