Ramzee Robinson and defensive tackle Jeremy Clark are the only two starters on offense or defense to be sidelined since practice has begun. Mark Anderson had arthroscopic knee surgery before the season and is expected back soon.
"Tuesday I came out here late after class and didn't stretch good enough," Robinson said following the squad's first day in full pads on Saturday. I ended up tweaking my back a little bit. I messed it up really bad on Wednesday."
He was going for a ball Wednesday when his back acted up on him, and he has been in the orange "injured" jersey since. He has a strain and is also suffering from continuous muscle spasms that are very painful.
Robinson said he feels like he can go only at about 60-65 percent. More frustrating is that there is no timetable for his return. He just has to wait for the muscles to settle down with rest and for the spasms to stop.
While riding the stationary bike during most of practice, Robinson watched and encouraged his fellow DBs on Saturday. During one-on-one drills, when freshman Chris Keys was getting worked over by a receiver Robinson was shouting tips from the bike.
"I don't like this," Keys said of the unfamiliar man-to-man coverage he was working on.
Robinson snapped back, "You have to learn to love what you don't like. That's how you get better."
Robinson said he tries to show leadership by pushing the younger guys and keeping an eye on everyone. "At the same time it's a learning thing for me, if I see them making mistakes I can learn from it," he said.
Robinson is trying to keep his head in the game even though his body isn't able right now.
"Physically it will hurt me," he said. "I'm trying to stay in it mentally. We start two-a-days tomorrow so I have to try to stay focused so when I come back I won't be behind."
Sophomore Simeon Castille has take more reps with the first-string with Robinson out. The defensive backs were among the better groups on Saturday's 109-degree heat index practice, but the heat cause some lost focus for everyone.
"It has been hot for a lot of the time but I think we did pretty good today," Castille said. "Some fatigue set in and got the best of us sometimes. The biggest thing for (the freshmen) is the mental toughness and working hard when they're tired. They don't quit. Yesterday Coach Ball made them go back and on a couple of drills and do them over and over again. I felt sorry watching them."
"After being in the system for a year I think I have to be kind of a leader," Castille said. "I have always been a leader, anyway, but I think I can help."