The echoes of the six-man blocking sled could be heard all over ‘Camp Rincon'. The pop of the pads and the grunts of 300 pounders signified to anyone who wasn't sure that football had indeed begun. The voice of Coach Charlie Dickey could be heard at every station around the spacious practice facility as the offensive line coach prodded his players.
If there was any doubt about how important blocking is to the team, one only had to witness Head Coach John Mackovic observing his linemen and tight ends as they pushed Dickey and the sled all over the field.
After the sled work was done, Dickey and the line continued to do a lot of work, both with themselves and with the defensive line. Improvement is clearly the name of the game.
"We can't be status quo," exclaimed a boisterous Dickey. "We can't be satisfied with status quo."
The team continues to not only reinforce techniques but put in a lot of new schemes, formations and plays. In addition to a lot of teaching, the team is doing a lot of competing. While the DBs and WRs are going 1-on-1, the front seven and the offense are working on running plays.
Although there was a lot less trash talking, the play was physical. During the rushing scrimmage a couple of running backs were tackled after the whistle, causing coaches to become furious. They had to admonish the overzealous players to be careful and, "play like college football players."
"Sometimes guys think, ‘if I knock everyone down that will make such an impression.' Well, if you hurt somebody and then he's out then that doesn't make an impression. Some of the rookies are having to adjust to it, because interestingly enough in high schools a lot of teams tackle every day."
Clarence Farmer was limited due to a tender ham string and that allowed Mike Bell and Gainus Scott to get in a lot of work. Both backs are very quick and one can tell that either is deadly in the open field.
The 7-on-7 "skellies" were situational today, with both teams working on strategies inside the 30. Johnson and the first team struggled in the early part of the drill, connecting on just one of the first four attempts, but that one completion was a 22-yard scoring strike to Juan Valentine.
For the drill, Johnson was a solid 6-14 for 89 yards. He threw for scores of 22, 10, 30 and two yards. Nic Costa was 2-of-5 and failed to crack the goal line.
In the 11-on-11 drills the defense had a little more luck, sacking the quarterbacks three times and picking off a deflected pass. Walk-on linebacker Justin Stewart corralled a Ryan O'Hara pass that was deflected. O'Hara completed his one other pass attempt for 15 yards. Johnson received most of the reps, going 3-6 for 30 yards. Costa was 1-1 for minus five yards as a screen pass was read perfectly by the defense.
*O'Hara showed his much-advertise mobility when he ran the option. He tossed a perfectly timed pitch to Scott who went 10 yards without being touched.
*Possibly due to last night's difficulties, the offense and defense were kept farther apart than they had the previous practices. During the 7-on-7 drills, where a lot of the trash talking started, the units were kept at opposite ends of the field.
*Although the trash talking was kept to a minimum, both units were very vocal in support of their own players. After any good play, the players not in the drill were cheering and high fiving.
*A few players were kept out of action or limited. For the latest update go to the INJURY REPORT.
Talk about this story on the football MESSAGE BOARD
E-mail Brad Allis at Heymtymte@cs.com