Spring football practice update

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Layne Saliba

Week one is over, and week two has just begun. Spring practice for the Georgia Southern football team is an exciting time where the players and coaches get the opportunity to finally get on the field together and play the game they love.

The beginning of last week was somewhat of a warm-up with the players dressed in shorts, jerseys and helmets. They were able to go through stretches, drills, special teams and a number of other routines.

It did not take long for the Eagles to get back into rhythm though. During the off-season, the players worked to perfect everything they learned last season and knew they would need this season.

Being in shorts did not stop the team from going full speed and coming out with lots of energy. The players and coaches alike know what kind of tempo that needs to be displayed in order to get better. It also does not hurt that they know the drills this year as opposed to last year.

That may be the biggest difference between the 2014 spring practice and the 2015 spring practice – tempo. The team is able to practice at an accelerated pace because they know the drills that the coaches want them to run through already. Last year, they did not have that luxury since it was head coach Willie Fritz’s first season with the Eagles. There is a lot less explaining, and a lot more action.

Being back on the field is a football player’s dream. The competition comes back and everyone begins fighting for their spot on the team. And that competition could not be any more important this season than it has ever been. After some losing a number of players to graduation, younger players are looking to step up to fill those voids.

They are not doing it all on their own though. For example, the offensive line is almost completely gone after last season. However, senior OL Darien Foreman has stepped up, become a leader on the line and helped encourage and teach other guys who have to fill the places that have been left vacant.

The team did not stay in shorts all week, but while they were, they were able to learn valuable techniques that may otherwise be impossible to learn with pads on. Playing without pads has helped the players become more aware of their hands, something that is sometimes forgotten as soon as the shoulder pads are strapped on. These habits are what the players need to learn in order to increase their skill level.

Once they did put on their pads, however, the team was focused on three things – throwing the ball more effectively, forcing more turnovers and improving kick/punt returns.

If the Eagles play the same type of game they did last season while improving on those three things, this could be a Georgia Southern team that no one can match.

It is always hard to replace players on any team. However, the Eagles are returning five starters on offense and eight on defense. That should offer some encouragement for the defensive side of the ball, but the biggest question mark comes on the offensive side. Nevertheless, there has been a lot of good effort and competition on the field during spring practice, which is promising in any situation.