There was plenty to talk about after Wednesday's practice. Read on for a closer look at coaching strategies, player performance, and more.
While the media was not allowed to watch Wednesday's entire practice, we feel we saw enough to at least make some notes on our impressions of how everything is run and the major differences in the current practices as opposed to what we saw with the previous staff.
When you walk on the practice field, the first thing you will likely notice is the narrowing of the field goal uprights. There is pipe that has been put in place in order to narrow it with the idea being that if the kicker can consistently make field goals through those uprights, he should be just fine in game situations. It sounds simple, but it is something that the previous staff did not do and it requires more concentration and accuracy from the kickers. It will be interesting to see if it brings any results instead of being a gimmick.
The amount of actual coaching that goes on is extremely impressive. If something is not done right, the drill will be briefly stopped or the player will be brought to the side and explained what happened. This may seem like common sense, but the reality is that a lot of schools do not do this. It is not necessarily only the best players getting coached up, but it seemed to be everybody. The improvement was apparent right away, as the players made corrections as they were told and applauded by the coaches that recognized this.
There was one drill in which the zone read was practiced, as there was a defender lined up opposite the quarterback and running back. The handoff was always made, but the drill revolved around where the quarterback was looking and how quickly the running back was able to get up field and take the right angle.
It was extremely interesting to watch how the coaching staff wanted the quarterbacks to react because while plays often looked just fine, Rod Smith or Calvin Magee would get upset because of something that may seem small to the casual observer. A lot of the new offense is going to revolve around the reaction of the quarterback and running back, so it makes sense that this drill was important.
Competition was stressed in nearly everything that the team did. There were one-on-one drills between the linemen and nearly every player and coach surrounded the linemen that were going at it. There was encouragement and plenty of pride on the line with legitimate disappointment if a certain player did not win.
In addition, the coaches were making sure the right effort was being put forth. There was numerous times in which Bill Kirelawich made the linemen go again because he was not happy with the effort. In fact, Rodriguez even stepped in and got in two players' faces because he felt they quit. With a new staff in place and most positions up for grabs, the coaching staff is going to take notice of that.
Rodriguez did not let the players talk to the media after practice because he felt they did not deserve to. He told the team that they were sitting home at Christmas last year and the overall attitude of the team needs to change in order to make a difference. It is obvious that Rodriguez is not only trying to improve the team, but the overall culture as well.