August 4, 2012

Wildcats start fall camp with Fan Day festivities

The freshman quarterback trotted to the offensive line. A crowd of 2,000, which had been mostly milling about, turned its attention to the field and voiced its approval. The quarterback took the snap and dropped back.

Patrick Towles let go of his first pass in 11 on 11 practice in college football. It sailed into the arms of safety Dakotah Tyler.

The crowd fell quiet again.

It was hardly the way Towles had hoped to start. Then again, opening fall camp at Commonwealth Stadium for fan day wasn't even the way Joker Phillips would have liked to have started things.

"Don't like our first practice to be on fan day, but it was," Phillips said. "So we got that out of the way. We have to get better from this point forward."

But one interception was hardly anything to worry about. Players were only in shorts and helmets, as shoulder pads and tights won't come until later in camp. Saturday night was "flag football," as Phillips called it.

The fans were more interested in collecting posters and autographs from the Wildcats after practice wrapped up. A fireworks show capped the night as the players left to return to their dormitories.

Sunday would present a different challenge. The Wildcats will be back at the practice fields, without a stadium of people watching. There were still changes on the field on Day 1, though.

"It feels so different out there," senior Martavius Neloms told a trainer on the sidelines between plays.

"Why?" the trainer responded.

"Because I'm at corner now!" said Neloms, who was moved to cornerback after starting at safety the last two years.

Things were rough at times. Phillips said the execution wasn't what the coaches wanted, as interceptions were thrown and passes that should have been completed were dropped.

Even if Phillips was a bit disappointed, he wasn't worried.

"It's hard to make any type of conclusions based on the first short practice," Phillips said. "We're just trying to get back into the flow."

The day wasn't without its highlights - including the fireworks. There were a handful of long passes during scrimmages late in practice, and fans had the opportunity to get close to coaches, players, and other folks around the program, like Andre Woodson and Braxton Kelley.

It was an imperfect start for more than just Towles. But there's much more to be decided ahead.




 

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