There was a different feel about the opening day of football training camp for the Govs, as the full squad met for the first time since spring practice.
Much of that can be attributed to the location, as due to turf not being ready for the newly built Governors Stadium, the Govs were forced to borrow Morgan Brothers Soccer Field beginning on Tuesday. But no matter where camp was held, it was evident that the first two hours would be drilling the basics into the minds of a young roster.
“We’ve got such a huge number of newcomers where practice can gradually grind to a halt to do some correcting,” head coach Kirby Cannon said. “But that’s a good thing. We anticipated that and the coaches are trying to coach down to the youngest, most inexperienced level.”
After warming up, the offense and defense split up on separate ends of the pitch to get the much-needed practice in at all position groups. There were no shortages when it came to correcting players as coaches didn’t try to accelerate the drills. As running backs weaved in and out of cones, it was done in a precise matter so each player would understand the correct way of executing it. The same can be said about the defense, with Cannon exclaiming, “Get it right!” when working on a package.
The quarterbacks split into groups, led by Trey Taylor, and hit receivers and tight ends on quick routes. After each catch, the offensive coaches urged the wide-outs to “finish”, meaning go until you cross the white line. This is all part of the Govs plans to run a no-huddle offense in 2014, and it’s clear the practices will be high tempo once the basics are installed.
“It just feels like we picked up where we left off in the spring,” said senior receiver Jamaar Embry. “We’re just trying to work on technique, while being mentally ready, knowing the plays, and knowing where to go. It’s a little slower, but no matter what we’re doing, we still have a high intensity.”
Cannon emphasized that it’s going to take a lot of patience from both coaches and veteran players to help the freshmen, which take up almost half the roster, to get in the flow of things. It’s easy for returning players to be frustrated, but there were no signs of that on the field. In fact, at times older players stopped to speak with freshmen players, including a chat between Taylor and a young quarterback after practice about how to study different defenses with a pen and paper.
“I see a lot of heart and a lot of people who have desire,” senior linebacker Adam Noble said. “They’re asking questions, and seem like they really care about it. That’s good to see as an older guy.”
Understanding the fundamentals will continue to be the focus throughout this week. Cannon said he isn’t moving to step two in the process,or allowing full pads to be put on, until the team as a whole is fundamentally sound.
One drill, one play, one practice at a time.
“Everyday we need to get better and better, so today, we’re going to put it in the past and keep going forward instead of being on a plateau,” Embry said. “We need to get to the peak.”
Photo: The Govs take part in Day 1 of training camp (Corey Adams/The All State)