Photo: True freshman Justin Ivory (64) and the Golden Eagles saw their first contact Wednesday and Thursday, and will be in full pads on Friday.
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- After two days of practices in shoulder pads and helmets, the Tennessee Tech football team will be decked out in full pads Friday morning when the Golden Eagles hit the turf in Tucker Stadium. Tech will hold two practices in full gear before facing its first scrimmage Sunday at 5 p.m.
Moving into full pads is the next step in a process, according to fifth-year head coach Watson Brown, who is in his 27th season as a collegiate head coach and 39th year overall coaching college players.
"It's really just a process. We go further then next day, then the next. Now we'll get to cut some when we've got pads on our legs. We've been having to block high and now we've got to learn to play cut blocks. A football team has to get into pad condition. We go shorts, then shoulder pads, then full pads. We've also got to get through conditioning, too. All of those things make this first week important."
And has the team's progress during the first week lived up to Brown's expectations?
"Yes, I've been very pleased," he said. "We're acting like a mature bunch, we're practicing well against each other, we're protecting each other but we're going real hard, so I've been pleased."
During the Thursday morning workout, middle linebacker Matt Moran (photo at right) continued to emerge as a leader on the defense.
"He's getting us lined up right, he's seeing his reads better," Brown said. "Our defense overall is better from the spring. I feel like we understand what we're doing better now, but it starts with those two inside linebackers. Matt's playing well."
Up front, sophomore Jordan Johnson (photo at left) is looking to establish himself as a starter in the middle of the line. On Thursday, the Miami, Fla., product had a stretch that caught the attention of offensive line coach Thomas Cox, who chided his players with the fact the Johnson was beating everybody.
Brown also noticed Johnson's play.
"Yeah, he is making an impression and that's important because we lost maybe the best noseguard in the league last year in Justin Hilliard," Brown said. "Jordan was Justin's backup, and now he's acting like a starter. His technique is so good, and he's so low to the ground it's hard to get underneath him. He's playing well."
Over on offense, junior quearterback Tre Lamb's experience shows.
"He is making decisions like a veteran," Brown said. "We're going to call on him, we're going to keep calling on him. We're putting more on him this year than last. He will run less than he did a year ago. We're not going to make him carry the ball as much, but at the same time he's making more decisions than he did last year. I'm letting him get us in and out of certain plays a little more, and right now Tre's playing well."
Finding depth at receiver is one of the goals during camp, and on Thursday redshirt freshman Cody Matthews (photo at left) had several outstanding plays.
"We've got Demetrous Garrett at 'Z', and then three freshmen, and all three look really good," Brown said. "Cody is getting better, he's playing well. He was a quarterback in high school and is trying to learn to play receiver. As a matter of fact, three of the four freshmen that are in the mix right now were all quarterbacks in high school, so all of them are learning and learning fast. Cody is coming on. He played defensive back in the spring until the last week, so he only had one week at that position in spring practice. He's got a chance to help us."
Season tickets to watch the five-game home schedule are on sale at the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center (931-372-3940), or online at TTUsports.com.