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Practice #21, Aug. 24, 2011

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The Tigers are continuing to focus on the upcoming season opener versus Mississippi State on Thursday, Sept. 1. The squad practiced this morning at the Murphy Athletic Complex and will have Thursday off before continuing the game plan for the Bulldogs in what will be viewed more as "game week" starting on Friday.

If the Thursday game doesn't throw a few people off, maybe this will -- Friday will be a Tuesday practice and Saturday will be a Wednesday practice, while Sunday and Monday will be two Thursday practices for all those following at home.

Coach Larry Porter was very pleased with practice today, and many out on the field were pleased with the weather as it was overcast most of the morning - a much welcomed break from the heat that the players have battled all through camp.

"Today was probably our best practice of fall camp," said Porter. "I thought we had a very high level, great execution on both sides of the ball. We had great intensity and enthusiasm. It was a really good day."

A full contingent of media came after practice to talk to Coach Porter, presumably to find out if he was ready to name the starting quarterback. By the smile on his face when the question was asked, he knows. But he went with the cliffhanger and told everyone he would make that announcement on Friday after practice. Adding later in the conversation that "it would only be fair to tell the two QBs before he tells the media."

"We have settled in on who that guy is," said Porter when pressed about the starter. "Both guys (Andy Summerlin and Taylor Reed) looked good today. They engineered our offense and kept the guys focused on the task at hand. They were sharp in their decision making and their throws."

Coach Porter explained that there are three qualities that he is looking for in a starting quarterback. 1)ability to manage our offense; 2)decision making; and 3) their productivity throughout camp.

"Andy has been somewhat inconsistent, but when you see him today, that's the guy we need out there on game day," explained Porter. "And you see a young guy in Taylor Reed who has gradually gotten better and truly opened my eyes to some things. I am happy with both guys. I think both are very capable of leading this offense."

One position that Coach Porter also spoke about today was linebacker, which is a spot that the Tigers lost two major contributors in Jamon Hughes and Winston Bowens. Right now, senior Terrence Thomas and junior college transfer Kenyata Johnson are running with the ones, while Khiry Battle, who started one of nine games played last season, and true freshman Charles Harris are running with the twos. Porter explained that Johnson has speed and athleticism and that Thomas is "a veteran guy who can get our guys lined up and set the defense for us." He also likes that Battle has starting experience and Charles is a very intelligent player.

As the training camp blog comes to a close, it's time to mention the support staff that spends countless hours assisting and making sure that practices, meetings and games run smoothly. This includes the equipment managers, athletic trainers, video staff and strength and conditioning staff. From setting up the practice field, to taping ankles to stretching the players, to laundry duties to cutting game film for the coaching staff, this group of about 40-plus behind-the-scenes "team players" are a valuable group each and every day.

Photo Gallery of the Support Staff

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