The Bulldogs might not be completely ready to play a game after two-and-a-half weeks of fall camp. The roster is definitely not at full-strength, though Croom is more optimistic about having a more complete lineup ready by September 4. Yet the head coach finished Friday much more satisfied than he had been at the end of Thursday's scrimmage at Scott Field.
Certainly his players left the practice fields with a spring in their steps...as Croom is giving the Bulldogs both Saturday and Sunday off, in one last break before the 2005 campaign kicks off. "Now I want them to go home, get a good meal, see their girlfriends to tell them how great they are," he said. "I hope they'll believe it and come back and play like it!"
Friday, with players in shorts, saw the session almost evenly divided between special teams drills, and ones and twos against scout units. Though not run at full-speed or contact, State kicking squads practiced almost every possible game situation in both kicking and coverage. That included on-sides kicks by the ‘hands' teams on both sides. The only aspects not practiced by teams were placekicks.
Punter Jared Cook is over the spells of back stiffness he had early in camp and is hitting the ball well again. Keith Andrews has been consistent placekicking out of the hold of either Joe Judge or Cook, with Russell Cook taking care of snapping.
Though not in full pads, there was some contacts made as the scout defense didn't give the first- or second-offense much slack. Omarr Conner continues to practice well at quarterback, but before the session Croom did say he intends to play both Conner and York against Tulane. Rookie Mike Henig will dress out for the opener but not necessarily play; "We'll always dress three, but Brett Morgan is our emergency quarterback," Croom added.
The passing drills were missing several targets Friday. Will Prosser (shoulder), Jason Husband (ankle), and McKinley Scott (hamstring) were limited to watching, as were tight end Ty Freeman (ankle), running back DeMarcus Johnson (hamstring), and guard Will Rogers (ankle). On defense, end Deljuan Robinson was held out to avoid aggravating a minor leg ailment, and tackle Solomon Ono (shoulder) also wore the red cross.
At this point only wide receiver Ray Ray Bivines seems definitely out for the opener. "We've been very fortunate, we've had no major injuries," Croom said.
For their part the Bulldogs, healthy or otherwise, felt fortunate to have a free weekend and half an hour after practice the Shira Complex parking lot was empty. Even the assistant staff will have some downtime this weekend, Croom said.
"We're going to work Saturday morning, about half a day, and take Sunday off," he said, then adding, "I'll be here all weekend."
David Murray is the Editor of Dawgs' Bite magazine and the featured writer for the Dawgs Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.