Manny Bunch marched down the sideline and high-five’d everyone wearing a white jersey in his path.
“They knew this was coming when we finally got pads on,” he yelled.
The University of Tulsa wore pads Saturday for the first time. The Hurricane started practice Thursday but wore only helmets the first two days.
“It was an exciting day out here,” Bunch, a senior safety, said. “First day with the pads, so as a defensive player you always get a little more hyped when the pads come on.
“We were out here with helmets only. It’s football, but then again, it’s not really football.”
When Bunch celebrated with his teammates on the sideline, the TU defense had just forced its second of back-to-back turnovers during a drill against the offense. Bunch was usually at the forefront of the shenanigans, as teammates on the sideline flocked to each defensive player who made a play. The commotion around the defense never quieted during the rainy practice.
“We had it a little bit last year, but this year we’re working on keeping that intensity up at all times,” Bunch said. “Coach Fletch (cornerbacks coach Aaron Fletcher) always tells us, ‘You gotta be a dog on the good days, and then you gotta be a dog on the bad days, as well.’ ”
After TU’s first practice Thursday, linebacker Cooper Edmiston mentioned the intensity that defensive coordinator Joseph Gillespie brought to that position while he served as linebackers coach the past four years. With Gillespie now in charge of the entire defense, Edmiston expected him to spread his persona to the rest of that side of the ball. Bunch has noticed exactly what Edmiston was talking about.
“He gets the intensity out of us,” Bunch said. “We’re gonna play hard for coach Gillespie. He’s gonna coach hard for us. That’s just that extra edge that we get with him as our defensive coordinator.”