Afternoon Drills Produce More Positives

Morning to afternoon practices were as different as, well, daylight to dark for the Bulldogs on their first round of two-a-drills this preseason. Where Coach Sylvester Croom had very little to say, and none of it good, after the a.m. session, he was a good bit more positive following the two-hour afternoon workout.

"This morning was not very good at all, we gave in to the heat and elements," he said. "This afternoon we looked pretty good, like we could compete for the conference championship inside in our shorts and underwear. Just a shame the game is not played that way."

Not that the Bulldog players were complaining about an afternoon spent in the Palmeiro Center in shorts and helmet. This was as planned, because Croom has said he will not work both ends of any two-a-day date outdoors or in full gear. It is meant to protect players from too much heat stress in camp, which was certainly an issue Wednesday. Even the best-conditioned Dogs struggled physically and mentally in the morning session and one, veteran safety Keith Fitzhugh, went down in the conditions. The dehydration and cramps were taken care of easily enough.

However there was one addition to the list of injuries reported in the morning workout (see the previous story). First-team left tackle Mike Brown joined the long list of players with a groin strain and spent the afternoon re-habbing on the sidelines. He is not expected to be out long.

Otherwise, "We had some good things, we had guys make plays," Croom said. "The receivers caught the ball well, Mike (Henig) threw extremely well. We can run on both sides of the ball, we've got speed on defense and offense and we're going to be a lot more explosive. Guys can take simple plays now and turn them into explosive plays."

There was even good words for the kicking game, particularly place-kickers Adam Carlson and Eric Richards who Croom said hit the ball well indoors. "Both of them made them at 52 yards and Eric Richards made it with ten yards to spare. It was an awesome kick. Our kickers are way ahead of where they were last year."

So is the overall roster and most of the depth chart. Most, that is, as the front-four of the defense is far from settled. "I'm still concerned about depth at defensive end, nobody has stepped up," Croom said. "We've got six guys working at defensive tackle with ability but nobody has decided to take the starting job." The end spots do have set starters in Avery Hannibal and the injured Titus Brown; but many of their immediate backups are also hurting and practices are hampered as a result. Inside, the six-some reported in the morning was the same in round-two.

No changes from the morning lineup were noted. Thursday morning could be different after the position coaches complete their evening's review of tapes from two Wednesday sessions. "Talent is not what I'm worried about," the head coach said. "We've got enough talent to win but we've got to be mentally tough and disciplined. If we don't beat ourselves then we'll have a chance to win this year.

"We're going to come out (Thursday) and have the same practice we had this morning. It's going to be full-pads and intense, we're going to learn to practice and compete in adverse situations. If we get to where we're mentally tough we'll be a good football team. Right now we're not mentally tough enough and there's one way to do it, to work in this heat."

Thursday has one morning practice only, with the annual preseason media day following. Friday is the next round of two-a-days.

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