Typically, the first day in full pads is a highly-awaited juncture of any preseason camp.
Charlie Strong's still waiting for it.
Though fully padded for the first time Tuesday, the Bulls collectively lacked pep in what their second-year coach called a "wasted day."
It ended with 11-on-11 work in the red zone, where QB Brett Kean found Ole Miss transfer Jacob Mathis for a 9-yard touchdown, RB Trevon Sands scored up the middle from about 10 yards, and transfer QB Blake Barnett logged a few reps with the first team.
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It was the only 11-on-11 session open to reporters.
"I told 'em I just didn't like our effort today," said Strong, whose team is set to scrimmage for the first time Saturday in a closed setting.
"We didn't come out here with the energy that we've had the last couple of days, and it's all about just energy and effort and just having confidence. You can't take days off. We only have so many practices … before we get to the game, so today was just a wasted day for us."
At least one veteran player agreed.
"As a senior leader on the team, we know our expectations are higher and our intensity is supposed to be higher," fifth-year senior WR Ryeshene Bronson said.
"So I feel like today was like a waste of a day for all of us, but (Wednesday) we should make it up. (Strong) says we're gonna get it back, so I know we're gonna make it better (Wednesday). As a senior leader, I'm gonna step up and tell the offense that we need to have a better day (Wednesday)."
One last ride
To avoid a repeat of 2017, when he tore his right rotator cuff in the preseason and missed the entire year, Bronson has added more than 20 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame since the end of spring practice.
Bronson (30 career catches, 531 yards) said he's currently at 211 pounds, 22 more than he weighed during the spring. He topped out at 215, relying on a healthier diet to complement his weight-training routine overseen by assistant strength-and-conditioning coach Brandon Roberts.
He insists the added pounds haven't affected his speed.
"I'm all gas, no brakes right now, because this is my last ride so I've got to make it the best ride," Bronson said.
"Coach Roberts, he was just like, 'You just need to put a little bit more muscle on yourself.' I took that as like, I need muscle and a little more weight because I don't want that (injury) to happen again."
Odds and ends
One of the most encouraging early signs from camp has been the effectiveness of the new kickers. Tennessee State transfer Coby Weiss, who appears to be battling senior Jake Vivonetto for the place-kicking job, had a 43-yard field goal at the end of practice. "You know what, one thing that has looked good is the way they've been kicking the ball," Strong said. "Our punter, Aussie (Trent Schneider, an Australia native), he's been putting the ball where it needs to be." … The first-team offensive line Tuesday featured LT Eric Mayes, LG Hal Roberson, C Michael Wiggs, RG Billy Atterbury and RT Marcus Norman. Redshirt freshman Demetris Harris, battling for the starting left-guard spot, was sidelined Tuesday with an undisclosed ailment.
"We're gonna do what we're gonna do and we're gonna practice the way we're gonna practice and we're not gonna slow down. But it just felt like when you put those knee pads on, everything slowed down a little." — Strong, on the lack of collective energy at Tuesday's practice