First Day in Full Pads
Friday night marked the first full pads practice of fall camp. It was a typical practice, well you know, with a higher intensity and a lot more hitting. The final 20 minutes there was an inter-squad scrimmage.
"I thought it was good," head coach Rocky Long explained. "I thought the actual scrimmage part was a little shaky. It was like everybody was getting their sea legs under them again. It's hard when you haven't practiced full speed since when we had practice in March. They actually haven't played football until today and I thought everybody was wobbly and a little off kilter. They were being aggressive but it wasn't sharp and it wasn't crisp."
Among those miscues were dropped balls by the receivers, cheap shots by both offense and defense in non tackling drills, holding among the offensive line and offsides by the defense.
Fourth Down Theory
It was during a 20-minute scrimmage on Friday night that head coach Rocky Long started to toy with his new offensive strategy.
"Once we cross the 50 yard line, go for every fourth down," Long said. "That's why we are doing it in scrimmages so I can get a feel for how it works."
During the scrimmage the Aztecs only had one 4th down. It was a 4th-and-1. The short down and distance was set up on a 3rd-and-12 where instead of trying to get all 12 yards at once, the offense ran a power play for sophomore running back Adam Muema against a pass first defense knowing that the offense still had 4th-down at their disposal. The offense converted the 4th down.
It later worked again in the same situation, 3rd- and-12, when Adam Muema broke a 30-yard run off another power play against a pass heavy defense.
The offensive play calling really changes when you know that 4th down will be used to get extra yards instead of a punt or a field goal attempt.
The idea came from Kevin Kelley, the Head Football Coach of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock (Ark.), who goes for 4th down no matter the distance and where his team is on the field.
"There's a reason why he's winning all those games but it might be he just has good players than everybody he plays," Long said. "Maybe that's it. Maybe it's that his players get used to playing like that and the other team doesn't get used to playing like that."
The successful program has won two state championships since 2008.
That being said you won't be seeing the Aztecs going for it on 4th down across the entire field or even on the opponent's side just yet.
"I'm really scared because I'm not doing it the whole time," Long said. "I haven't decided because we are getting a feel for it out here."
The Aztecs will continue to use the 4th down concept tomorrow during scrimmage but Long did say, "It's a day-to-day theory."
Wright Switches Positions
The first position change of fall camp happened Thursday night when redshirt freshman running back Brandon Wright switched to safety.
"He's a really good athlete and he's aggressive and he'll hit you," Long said.
It's too early to evaluate how Wright is doing but he does have the size and athleticism for the position. Right now he's focused on learning his assignments.
Wright, 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, played defensive back his sophomore and junior year at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas (Nev.).
The switched occurred due to having five other good-looking running backs with another two coming in the 2013 class, Marcus Stamps and Donnel Pumphrey. Coach Long did mention that another back could move over to linebacker or safety here "someday."
How does a position change get handled?
"We don't make anyone move," Long explained. "We really don't. We talk to them about it and say we think you will play more if you move to a different position where we make it their choice."
It was about a week before training camp started that Wright said he wanted to try running back. It took about three practices at running back before he came into the coaches' office and said he rather play safety.
Two-a-days begins Saturday where there will be a morning and night practice. It will be the first of five during fall camp.
"I don't know how long this rule has been in effect but I played in and coached where there were 15 straight days of two-a-days," Long said.
The San Diego State football players are excited for two-a-days but Long thinks their true colors will eventually show.
"There like every football team after their second or third two-a-day they'll be complaining about how hard they are working, how sore they are; just like every football does," Long explained. "It doesn't matter if you practice 15 straight days of two-a-days or three or four. They complain about being tired, sore, or working really really hard. That comes with the territory."
-Sophomore defensive tackle Sam Meredith did practice (ankle) but was noticeably limping and limited during scrimmage.
-NFL scout from the Dallas Cowboys attended practice.
-Saturday night the team is scheduled to scrimmage for about an hour.
SDSU Fall Camp: Day 5
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