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Spring Practice #7 & #8 Report

Crazy Old Testament God punished the Cards with a rash of bad weather Saturday

Spring practices #7 and #8 were conducted Friday and Saturday at the Scheu, and BSU head coach Pete Lembo broke them down with BSU media. To the releases!

Spring Practice #7 Release
You are at the halfway point of Spring Practice, is the team where you expected it to be at this point?
In some ways we are ahead of where I thought we would be, but we definitely have a long way to go in many areas. We are teaching, evaluating and trying to build strong relationships at the same time. We are learning about the strengths and weaknesses of each player and the team as a whole. I am pleasantly surprised at the relatively low number of assignment mistakes considering how new everything is to the players. At the same time, we don’t always do some of the simple things well – like playing in a good, athletic position or taking care of the football. Those things will get you beat in a hurry. We are emphasizing a lot of fundamentals each day in hopes of forming some good habits and basic football skills by the conclusion of spring drills.

Is there one group — offense, defense, special teams — ahead of another in terms of progress?
Each group has shown some flashes, but has been inconsistent. We have a number of guys playing new positions and others who are still getting adjusted to the new systems. On offense and defense, we have taken a slow, but steady approach to our installation schedule. We have been careful not to overload the players with too many schemes. On special teams, we have been primarily teaching fundamentals and concepts with the exception of punt protection and the PAT/field goal unit. You have to crawl before you can walk. Several individual players continue to make their presence felt and today was no exception. Receivers Jamill Smith, Briggs Orsbon and Willie Snead all made plays in team or pass skeleton periods. Center Jerrod Gray is getting better upfront as is tackle Austin Holtz. Cornerback Quinton Cooper made some plays on defense today, including an interception in one of the pass skeleton periods. Safety Joshua Howard is starting to play faster.

Are team leaders beginning to emerge from your team at this point?
We definitely have some solid leadership in our senior class. I have been meeting with our seniors periodically to discuss the direction of the program and some of the philosophical and structural changes we want to incorporate in the near future. They have been very open and honest with me and I have learned a lot from them so far. They are an important piece of the puzzle because they were here when the program experienced success. They have seen the ups and downs on the field, but also have an intimate knowledge of what took place behind the scenes. I already feel very comfortable bouncing ideas off them. I am also sensitive to the fact that I am the third head coach they have played for. Their commitment and “buy in” has been terrific so far, but I don’t take it for granted. I am sure we will all work hard to continue to build trust in the weeks and months to come.

Has the pace of practices been what you wanted this spring?
It is slowly improving each day. The players are getting more comfortable with the length and organization of our practice sessions. It requires great focus. You cannot just give good physical effort. We are asking these guys to be plugged in all the time and become better students of the game. We are challenging them mentally as much as we are physically. We want to move at a good pace, but not at the expense of teaching. Even something as simple as holding a shield in a drill – there’s a way to do it right. There’s a way to do it where your teammate benefits and therefore the team benefits. Once we get every player suited up taking the approach that I need to get better in every period of every practice, we will move at a good pace.

And you can’t have the 7th without the 8th. To the release!

Spring Practice #8 Report
Today may have been the worst weather of the Spring Practice, how did the players respond?
It sure was. We got some heavy rain and had one delay due to thunder and lightning passing through the area. Our players did a nice job of handling the break and coming back out focused despite the conditions. We cut the session short because of the combination of bad weather and the risk of injury. Fortunately, we got about 85% of our work done today with a pretty good tempo. Afterwards, we talked about the things we can control and the things we cannot – with the weather being an example. Our attitude was great today and we look forward to getting back on the field next week.

You had officials at practice today, what was the reasoning and did you get accomplished what was needed?
Officials are always a good reality check for the players. Coaches provide feedback and make corrections on the field and in meetings. However, when officials are present and they are calling penalties, it’s instant feedback. The opportunity to work at some spring scrimmages is beneficial for the officials because it helps them stay sharp and communicate with each other. Many young officials utilize this time to work with veterans in hopes of moving up the ladder to bigger conferences. We appreciate their time and commitment by being here today.

We are two weeks away from the Spring Game, what are your expectations for that day’s format at this point in time?
I am not quite sure at this point. A awful lot can happen from an injury standpoint in the next week or so. We will have another opportunity to scrimmage with officials next Saturday morning. Several players like Andrew Puthoff, Cameron Lowry, David Schneider and Zane Fakes continue to be non-contact throughout the spring season. At a minimum, I envision a substantial offense versus defense scrimmage on April 23rd with special teams work mixed in. The best case scenario would be a true Red vs. White Game where we draft teams and play more of a realistic game. At some point, I really hope our depth enables us to make it happen that way.

Yes, Lembo did refer to it as Red-White and not Cardinal and White, but I can give him a pass on this one. The interesting things that I’m seeing consistently from Lembo and his updates as to the team’s progression and advancement are the attention to the details. When you’re mentioning things like how to hold a shield in a drill, that’s a commitment to the little things which usually leads to achievement of the bigger things. Remember in 2008 how we were 12-0? Remember also how we were one of the fewest penalized teams in the nation? That sort of correlation between commitment to precision and wins isn’t something coincidental or happenstance. Usually, the teams with the greatest focus and precision win. Coach Lembo mentioning rain, lighting, and weather impacting the practice and cutting the amount of time they could actually work opens up the giant can of worms that is an indoor practice facility. It’s time, BSU. Especially given the fact that we apparently have a coach who can actually make people want to donate money to help the program, not just donate money to cut them a buy out check.

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One Response

  1. […] at Over the Pylon is beating the drum for the Cardinals to finally build an indoor practice facility given that the eighth practice was […]

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