Techniques stressed in spring's second practice

Day two of spring practice has begun and the Wildcat football team is jumping in headfirst. No adjustment to new coaches. No long learning periods on how drills will be done. There may be new faces, new attitudes, new ways to be put to the paces, but that does not mean that time will be wasted.

At the outset of practice you could tell that the new coaches had different ways of doing things. New receivers coach Mike Borich stressed fundamentals and drills that left at least one former Wildcat impressed.

"He did some drills I have never seen before," said former Wildcat Lamont Lovett. "I really like what I've seen." During passing drills Borich was vocal, but positive. He got on players about not utilizing their speed and stressed proper technique to get better results.

Technique and fundamentals seem to be a major focus. Players spend a lot of time with their position coaches. The team is going through a myriad of drills to work on little things. Quarterbacks have spent time on footwork and timing. Receivers spent time on blocking techniques. For the defense proper form tackling has been a major emphasis.

The defense is also busy learning a new system. The Cats are eliminating the Double-Eagle Flex and a 3-4 defense will be the norm. Some of the team's smaller defensive ends will be tried at outside linebacker and the coaches need to know if guys can make the adjustment. The defensive changes also make the role of the safeties different than in the past. Lamon Means, a free safety a year ago, spent time at strong safety, while last year's starter at strong, senior Clay Hardt, received a lot of reps at free safety, the position he played his first two seasons.

Another key to the defense is movement. Mackovic had wanted a lot of movement prior to the coaching changes and seemed quite pleased that new defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz's system emphasizes just that. The offense has less adjusting to do. The team is looking to replace Bobby Wade and Jason Johnson, but won't have a major philosophy switch to deal with. Despite less to learn, the team does not expect the offense to be ahead of the defense by the time they scrimmage on Saturday.

"I really hope that we make each other work hard on both offense and defense," Mackovic said. "I would hate to see that either the offense or defense would dominate a scrimmage or any part of a practice. We should have a good read on the players by the time we watch films on Saturday night because we will have already completed six practices by then."

*Quarterback John Rattay appears to be rusty from not playing after suffering a knee injury last fall. His knee is not 100% and he seems to be still adjusting to throwing again.

*Towards the end of punting drills, Danny Baugher boomed some impressive punts. After an iffy start, the sophomore punter got off a couple of long, high kicks that had returners backpedaling. One left the practice field after bouncing once.

*Former Wildcat quarterbacks Jason Johnson and Keith Smith watched practice.

*Running back Clarence Farmer, suspended by Mackovic last month, was on hand, observing from the field. He will not participate in any drills or scrimmages.

*All Wildcat offensive linemen are wearing knee braces while participating in drills. It is a preventative measure after several players suffered knee injuries last year.

*Darrell Brooks and Steve Flemming both donned yellow "no-contact" jerseys. They are both recovering from injuries but are able to go through drills.

*A few players have made position switches. Matt Belshe has been converted from QB to FB. Antoine Singfield and Tim Taylor make the move from the offensive backfield to linebacker.

*The Cats have a number of new faces in camp. They include:
WR Jerome Parker, WR Ryan Eidson, WR Chris Landauer, WR Simon Seng, FB Galovale Galovale, FB Richard Newman, TE Clarence McRae, TE Michael Franklin, LB Kai Chandler, DB Sam Stephenson, LB Kyle Dillingham. Newman (Scottsdale CC), McRae (Arizona Western) and Chandler (Martin Luther College) have transferred from junior colleges.

Talk about this on the Cat's Lair MESSAGE BOARDS

Wildcat Authority Top Stories