Friday, August 05, 2011

SPORTS>>Beebe pops hard in first full-pad drill

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers had a lively first day of practice in pads Thursday, spending a lot of time in “Blood Alley” before taking the practice field for their first live scrimmage.

Blood Alley is a traditional drill that usually pits two linemen on each side of the ball, with a running back to carry the ball and a defensive back coming from the side after the play starts. The whole thing takes place between two tackling dummies that are laid down approximately five yards apart. Beebe held the drill inside the fieldhouse on Thursday. Players rotated rapidly and the pace was fast. Players who weren’t involved in the play stood encircled around the alley, shouting encouragement and cheering big hits.

Beebe head coach John Shannon was pleased with the intensity of the drill, and saw some things he might not have expected.

“One I was pretty impressed with was my little sophomore Daniel Gann,” Shannon said. “I thought he held his own against Tyler Love, who’s a three-year starter for us.”

Shannon also mentioned Brandon Custer and Brody Welcher as players who stood out in the physical drill.

The team went straight from there to the practice field, where ones worked against ones for quite a while. Backup quarterback Brandon Purcell had to take the snaps with the first team offense. Starter Dustin Stallnacker is out with an ear infection and can’t wear a helmet.

Purcell, along with the rest of the offense, performed very well.

“I think we’re further along execution-wise offensively than we usually are at this point,” Shannon said. “Even with the backup quarterback, we still moved the ball. We did a good job with the quick-hitting plays and our option was pretty good.”

Sophomore Eric Thorn showed signs of the potential he possesses.

He broke loose for two touchdowns on his first four carries.

“Thorn ran the ball hard and he ran tough,” Shannon said. “And once he got to that second level he was able to make some moves and break a few tackles. With him it’s just going to be a matter of whether he wants to play like a sophomore, or play up to his capability. I think if he plays up to his capability, he’s got a chance to be one of the best backs we’ve ever had around here.”

With the offense performing so well, it might be seen as a concern about the defense, but Shannon doesn’t see it that way.

“This is pretty typical for us when we’re first starting out,” Shannon said. “It’s hard for anybody to just line up and stop our offense when you haven’t gone against it in a while. It started like this in spring and by the end, we were having some trouble moving the ball against them.”

Shannon also pointed out how well he thought his defense did at the team camps in Conway.

“We saw a lot of different offenses over there and we’re going to see a lot more of that kind of offense than the one we run,” Shannon said. “I thought the defense did really well over there.”

Beebe will only go twice a day two times next week, on Monday and Friday, with afternoon practices Tuesday through Thursday due to teacher meetings.