In 7-on-7 work Travis Benjamin had a nice 20-yard gain. Spencer Whipple had a nice gain to Thearon Collier in team drills, and Kendal Thompkins also had a couple of nice grabs during 11-on-11 work.
WR Leonard Hankerson had a touchdown on a post route in team drills, and RB Lamar Miller also ran in a pair of 20-yard plus scores.
"On one we were running a counter, I saw the hole and just cut back and outran everybody," Miller said. "The other was a stretch play and I cut it back to the inside because everyone was swarming to the outside."
On defense Demarcus Van Dyke and Vaughn Telemaque had interceptions. Telemaque almost had a second interception as well.
"We're trying to get interceptions every day so when game time comes we know how the ball feels, are okay with it," Van Dyke said.
DE Dyron Dye is enjoying his first spring after missing almost all of last year due to injury.
"My last practice was the Tuesday of the Oklahoma game - I had surgery that Wednesday," Dye said. "It was real hard; I talked to my mom and dad every night, prayed, got through it."
Dye is rotating around getting reps with the ones on both sides. He currently weighs 250 pounds; when he arrived he was 235.
According to DVD, Dye "has a good motor. He reminds me of a younger version of Adewale Ojomo, a tough-minded kid out to play ball. When he first got here I thought he'd play linebacker, but over the (off-season) he put on a lot of weight."
Redshirt freshman Billy Sanders has missed a couple of days with a minor injury this spring, but he's back now and is pleased with his progress.
"I'm getting the plays down," he said. "Things are coming together. The tight ends are doing well."
Sanders has made a name for himself with his toughness.
DVD says Sanders "has a tough mind. When you try to touch him (in non contact work) he'll try and run you over. He's a tough-minded kid. I like him."
For his part, Sanders said, "I guess when I was on scout team I (had that hard-nosed mentality)."
Redshirt freshman RB Lamar Miller says he hopes to become a touchdown maker using his tremendous speed.
But one thing he's working especially hard on is "my blocking on pass protection. I just have to come out here and compete, make everybody better."
Asked how the redshirt year made him better, Miller said, "It made me better as a runner, and my pass protection (improved). I'm just trying to stay focused on and off the field, and just stay healthy."
Miller says he currently weighs 212 pounds; he arrived at UM at 203 pounds. He says he'd like to play around 205 pounds. "I'm trying to lose a couple."
DVD says he's put a heavy emphasis on his tackling skills this off-season.
"The first couple of years I wasn't great at tackling, had to work on that with coach (Welsey) McGriff and coach (Randy) Shannon," Van Dyke said. "Now I feel my tackling game is up to my coverage skills."
Van Dyke is getting plenty of reps along with Brandon Harris now because Cory Nelms is still running track and Brandon McGee is out with a minor issue.
What makes Van Dyke think this group will take a big step up from last season, when there were some breakdowns?
"Maturity level," Van Dyke said. "Brandon McGee played a lot of reps last year, got his feet wet. Now he should come and make plays as a sophomore."
A goal for himself this season?
"I just want to help my team win," Van Dyke said.
Fullback Patrick Hill redshirted last year due to an injury that didn't require surgery. He says he was hurt on the opening kickoff return against Virginia Tech.
"I didn't believe I was hurt, went back in a couple of more times, but as I sat out, got back that Sunday, I realized something was really wrong," Hill said. "I was week to week, but as it got further in the season I knew I'd have an opportunity to take a redshirt and I thought it was smarter to do that than come back and play hurt."
Now he's back full go, and he's looking forward to contributing to the team.
"Last year was real tough for me," Hill said. "It's good to be back - I'm glad. It feels good. After expecting to be gone I have to be back now."
Hill says he plans to be a vocal leader on this team.
"I'm humble a lot more (since arriving at UM), and I've gotten better at certain things I wanted to get better at as far as getting quicker and becoming a better student of the game," Hill said.
Hill says he feels he has better flexibility than a year ago after going through rehab for the injury.
"(I'm) getting a lot quicker coming out of my stance, try to be a bigger threat in the offense in getting more catches, more runs," Hill said.
Hill hasn't changed his stance, but he says he feels more comfortable coming out of it.
"Now I can just sprint right out of it," Hill said.
He says he's lost five pounds since last year.
"I'm between 255 and 260," he said.
Of how Mike James did in his place last season, Hill said, "He did an excellent job. It's real hard, so I think he did a good job of taking one for the team and stepping in there."
Of backup fullback John Calhoun, Hill said, "I think he's doing a tremendous job. John, like we all are, is learning. It's tough when you're used to one thing and last year you get a new complex playbook. He's doing a great job picking it up this year."
Former Cane Ed Reed watched on at practice.
The bossman speaketh:
How do you think the first week went?
We didn't get scrimmage work in, but I was pleased especially with the progress of the young quarterbacks executing the offense, not getting nervous and things like that. And the enthusiasm on the football field has been great, a lot of energy, interaction between the players, guys taking pride in what you're doing. You're going to have confrontations here and there which is good, because each of them is trying to get better every time.
So there have been some scuffles?
One every now and then. But they break themselves up because it's all about fun. That' the one thing you like, that those guys are really going after each other. Instead of `you're my teammate, my roommate,' it's more of 'you're on offense, I'm on defense, now I'm going to get after you,' which is good.
You have a closed scrimmage on Saturday. What's the plan for that?
We'll try to get a 130, 140 play scrimmage in if we can, a long, physical type of deal. The quarterbacks will get equal reps; everyone will get equal reps. From the first scrimmage to the last you want to see how much better each player can get.
You have the Spring Game starting at 4:30 p.m. now instead of the morning like last year?
We're going to move it; every two years we try to move it. The Thursday night scrimmage will be at Lockhart. Traz Powell will be the spring game. They have a Nike combine so we have to move it back (to the late afternoon).
At least the kids in the combine can stay for the scrimmage after and watch.
Yeah, that'll be great for whatever number of kids, 800.
Talk about Dyron Dye's progress.
He's coming along, still a freshman. He missed a lot of work last year when he was injured and he's coming off an injury. He's coming back around, is practicing a little in certain drills which is good for him and for us. In the long run we want him to get full speed, ready to go. He's bigger; a lot of guys on the team are bigger now. His size and strength, now he has to get accustomed to running again. We expect a lot out of him. He's got a lot of intensity. When he gets back now he can show us what he really can do.
Lamar Miller, how has he looked?
He just got back today (from track). Him, Brandon (Harris), Travis (Benjamin), they probably went four or five plays each drill. You don't want to give them all the reps because that's when muscles pull. We eased them back into it. Saturday if we go 130 (plays) each will get 35-40 plays, which will be good for them. We'll see how their wind is.
Nice to have Pat Hill back?
Yeah, really good. Pat has been a tremendous lift for us. He's a leader now. Guys look up to him because of the way he plays the game - very smart, very physical type player. Also he's demanding from the younger guys what to get done.
Is he the kind of player that fans don't miss him until he's not there?
Yeah. Look at the stats from the first three games from the running game (when Hill was playing) to toward the end. He was a vital part of our success the first three because of his blocking, protection, things like that which is tremendous. Pat, all he wants to do is be part of the team. He's not worried about his carries. When you have a guy like that, that makes the team tougher when you have a fullback like him that doesn't mind blocking. He's just going to go in there and get it done. He gains a lot of respect from players on this team because of what he's done.
Your thoughts on LaRon Byrd?
He made a lot of plays last week, improved from last year. We told him, and I told him Saturday, `Hey you had a great week. But now when we come back you have to have a different mentality; what you did last week is over with.' I'm trying to prepare those guys for next season, because we had success early in the season, guys were feeling good about themselves and probably slacked off. Now this is a time you can actually work on it to see if you take that next step, not relax now.
What do you want to see from Demarcus Van Dyke this spring?
For him to get better. All you want is guys to get better.
Have you talked to Jimmy Graham since the combine?
A little bit, not really. The combine is the combine. It's who likes you, which team wants to draft you and who is hiding you out. I'm happy for all those guys that had an opportunity to go to the combine and run.