Tuesday, August 09, 2011

SPORTS >> Red Devils have basics

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville spent the first week of football practice finishing up installing the basics of the new offense it will be running this season. In the early practices of week two, it has begun to fine tune and implement the complimentary aspects of the system.

Head coach Rick Russell believes the team has the basics down.

“We’re still fine tuning it,” Russell said. “We still expect perfection so we’ve got a lot we still want to get accomplished. The terminology, the basics of it, they’ve got it down.”

A few more players joined the team once two-a-days began, that weren’t part of the summer workouts. Most late comers are sophomores, a few others are move-ins.

The team didn’t go in full pads until Tuesday of this week.

“We put in our offensive and defensive packages, the basics of it, last week,” Russell said Tuesday morning. “We reviewed yesterday and we’ll put on the pads today.”

The team won’t go all out until a planned scrimmage on Thursday, but the coaching staff will spend the week seeing who will step up and add themselves to the number of players already counted upon.

“We’re looking forward to putting those pads on and figuring out who the hitters are,” Russell said. “There’s not really been any surprises yet, as far as players we weren’t expecting to really step up, but a couple more days in pads will answer a few more questions.”

Tuesday and Wednesday practices will focus partly on blocking and tackling technique.

“We want to give them a couple of days to get used to the pads before we do anything live,” Russell said.

The execution of the new system has gone well most of the summer, including the stellar outing at the Arkansas State University 7-on-7 competition last month. Those types of drills are not the same as live, full-contact scrimmaging.

“There’s no defensive end contain, no rushing in those types of things, which makes the throws easier,” Russell said. “We’ve had some shield drills to sort of work on that, but we’ll find out where we are Thursday. We’ve just got to execute what we’ve learned now.”

Defensively little has changed. A couple of new wrinkles have been added, but the basics will stay the same as recent years when Russell served as defensive coordinator.

Depth is still a concern. Russell said some of the late- comers may have a chance to step in and play, but as of now, there could be several players on both sides of the ball.

“Some of the younger kids, or move ins, we hope will be able to help to where we can just about two-platoon,” Russell said. “But we’ve got some backs and secondary guys that are going to have to play both sides. Hopefully no linemen will have to, but we still may have some guys alternating over there a little bit.”

Jacksonville’s first real action is less than two weeks away. It is scheduled to play Mills in the Arkansas Activities Association benefit game on Aug. 23 at Jacksonville.