* A much improved offense highlighted Tuesday’s practice, with the offense picking up three touchdowns, including two by Johnathan Franklin.
* Both of Franklin’s touchdowns were short-yardage, one for three yards, one for four, but he had a few other nice plays. He had a 22-yard gain on a beautiful screen pass and scored on the next play, and he had a couple of runs up the middle that elicited a cheer.
* The big bruiser on Tuesday, though, was Malcolm Jones. Jones had a seven-yard run that should have gone for two, breaking two or three tackles, and a very nice draw play that went for more than 20 yards, with three more broken tackles. I’ve written before about “football speed” – maintaining the same speed even in pads – and Jones has it. He initiates contact, but his legs are so strong that he basically bullies himself forward. It’s the difference between a one-yard loss and a two-yard gain, and that means everything.
* Richard Brehaut was solid but not spectacular, save for a 25-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Embree on the first play of the scrimmage. It wasn’t the prettiest throw, but it was delivered to a spot that only Embree could reach, and that’s a big change for Brehaut, who often had trouble with precision last season. He’s improving, and he is solid as the No. 2 QB.
* Defensively, the star once again was Dietrich Riley. Riley had a forced fumble on the fourth play of the scrimmage – an absolutely pitch-perfect hit, helmet-on-ball, against Derrick Coleman – and added an interception in the red zone later.
* Josh Smith returned and was his typical self, and his health will be a major key to the offense this year. The Bruins are deep at wideout, but Smith is a game-changer, and they need his big-play ability, particularly in the return game.
* Cory Harkey and Stan McKay were back in red jerseys as they recover from concussions and Neuheisel said they’d practice tomorrow if there were no setbacks, while Morrell Presley will likely be in red tomorrow and back on Thursday.
* Still no timetable on Kevin Prince, although he did perform in the scrimmage and in some drills wearing a red jersey. Still no contact, and he only handed off in the scrimmage. He’s working his way back into things.
* Defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa has a hip flexor and is expected to return soon, Neuheisel said.
* Jayson Allmond worked with the offense today, Damien Thigpen back with the defense.
* Earlier in practice, I was watching Nate Chandler extensively, and he’s improving by the day on defense. He’s learning to watch the ball instead of listen to the snap, and he broke off the line of scrimmage for sacks/TFL a couple times in team drills.
* Intensity was very high, and Jordan Zumwalt was a major culprit, getting into two skirmishes that were quickly extinguished. Neuheisel did chew him out, though.
* Lastly, I’m having some camera issues, and I’m not sure when I’ll have the videos up. Check out the awesome Ricky Marvray/Aaron Hester interview, though…
* An improved offensive performance in the mini-scrimmage highlighted today’s practice, with the first-team unit scoring three times.