The San Jose State University football team closed out spring practice with a scrimmage in Spartan Stadium. Three seniors, cornerback Trae Jackson, safety Jason Evans and offensive lineman Matt Cantu, offered their views on the 15 practice sessions and the importance of the summer conditioning program heading into the 2006 season, just over four months away.
DESCRIBING THE BIG PICTURE
"There are no jobs set in stone right now. Everyone is still battling. Right now, every day, you have to compete," said Jackson, who was moved from a linebacker position to compete at cornerback this spring. "The defense is further along than we were last year. We have a lot of people who didn't play much last year so everybody is fighting for a job. We're coming along pretty well and jelling.
Evans echoes Jackson's theme on jelling as a team and describes the defensive emphasis this spring.
"(During spring practice) We looked at the little things we have to do. In the big picture, it's how to do all the little things right. Our whole thing is mainly being ‘right.' We are a work in progress," said Evans, whose game action last year was divided between special teams play and selected time at a safety position. "We learned the fundamentals on how to ‘extract' to the ball and rally to the ball carrier. Right now, we're in a good spot, but we have a long way to go."
"What we did the last 15 days was emphasize how to stop the vertical ball and stopping the run on third-down situations and even fourth-down situations."
"I can say this was the best one (spring practice), because we started to come together. Previously, people shined here and there, but we never understood how to jell as a team. This spring ball was totally different because we started learning what we need from our teammates in order to win."
Cantu, whose from center to tackle last year in midseason coincided with the Spartans' success in the running game, sensed a crispness in the offense, believed the team took advantage of its practice days particularly in Spartan Stadium.
"It looks like our plays are running a lot cleaner than in the past," said the versatile lineman.
"Everyone adapted really well to it. We know it was going to rain, but we were happy to go down to the game field, because it's a lot flatter. There are fewer divots," Cantu explained about the weather and consequent schedule changes.
THE ROAD AHEAD FOR THE SPARTANS
The team now turns its football attention to its conditioning program that runs through July.
"The summer is real vital. It will key to be here this summer. If you're not, you're going to miss out on a lot of good work. In the fall, we'll be able to see who can do what. It will all depend on the summer," Jackson says.
"You can lose a lot of strength and ability if you don't work out during the summer," adds Cantu.
Figure new strength coaches Terrell Jones and Chris Holder will work closely with the team as they prepare for a 12-game season starting September 2 at the University of Washington.
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