The middle of the last week of practice started a little earlier than previous weeks with players getting to the field at about 7:45 a.m.
The slightly earlier start, practices were beginning at 8 a.m., didn't seem to damper spirits as there was plenty of hooting and hollering heard outside the outdoor practice facility on a 30 degree day.
On the injury front, running back Jonas Gray was back after sitting out Saturday. Gray had a high-calf injury, according to coach Brian Kelly, but was expected back Monday.
The senior-to-be didn't look like he was slowed down by any injury and participated in all the drills during the opening 25 minutes of practice that were open to the media.
Receiver Daniel Smith continues to be restricted at practice because of his hamstring injury. The sophomore-to-be did go through the stretching routine, but he wasn't participating in individual drills during the media portion.
Nose guard Tyler Stockton, who is recovering from a knee injury, also went through warm-ups, but like Smith, he was not in pads.
Offensive lineman Chris Watt still has a boot on his left foot, and linebacker Anthony McDonald had his arm in a sling after he had surgery to repair a partially torn pectoral muscle. Neither was dressed to participate in drills.
I spent the open portion of Wednesday's practice watching the offense, and a couple of different sights stood out at quarterback.
The first was the QBs working with the first team during tempo drills. Early enrollee freshman Everett Golson and sophomore-to-be Andrew Hendrix split reps to start the tempo drill.
Both were in blue, contact jerseys as Golson took the first few reps before switching out with Hendrix.
The quarterbacks worked behind an offensive line constructed of, from left, Zack Martin, Andrew Nuss, Braxston Cave, Trevor Robinson and Taylor Dever. They were also working with two tight ends as former Bishop Dwenger standout Tyler Eifert and Mike Ragone shared the field.
Robby Toma and Theo Riddick were the receivers, and Cierre Wood and Gray split running back duties.
Tommy Rees and Dayne Crist split reps with the second team during the tempo drill with Rees starting. The quarterbacks worked behind an offensive line constructed of, from left, Tate Nichols, Lane Clelland, Mike Golic Jr., Brad Carrico and Christian Lombard. Jake Golic and Alex Welch were the two tight ends, and Deion Walker and walk-on Nick Fitzpatrick were the receivers. Walk-on Patrick Coughlin was the running back.
Crist and Rees back with the first team after the first time through.
The second different thing for the quarterbacks Wednesday was that they ran through the gauntlet before doing more individual throwing drills. Never seen anyone but running backs run through the device.
Before the offensive tempo drill, the quarterbacks threw to receivers and running backs. There was a bit of an extra obstacle as the sun was glaring into the receivers' faces for the throws
The second time through there were three missed passes, which appeared to be sun induced, before TJ Jones was able to come down with a catch.
Kelly and assistant coaches are scheduled to talk to the media after practice. Be back with more later today.