Tuesday, July 16, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers not rusty after three weeks

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Badgers took part in a team camp at Conway with four other teams last Thursday. The camp was more game-like than 7-on-7, but wasn’t full contact. Linemen were involved as teams dressed out in helmets and shoulder pads, but there was no tackling to the ground.

Given that the Badgers had not seen live competition since its last 7-on-7 meet three weeks earlier, head coach John Shannon was pleased with how his team performed.

“I was afraid we’d be pretty rusty, especially early on, but I was pleased with how we executed after three weeks off,” said Shannon. Offensively we did a very good job of executing in the running game. Defensively it’s hard for me to tell since everything is so fast paced and I’m with the offense, but our defensive coordinator (? Robertson), was pretty pleased with how things went.”

Two newcomers will fill the role in the featured position of Beebe’s dead T offense. Junior Clayton Meur and sophomore Tripp Smith both got positive reviews from Shannon for their performances at fullback.

“They’re both new because Clayton didn’t play last year, but we feel pretty comfortable with both of them,” Shannon said. “They both did really well so we haven’t named a starter. It may be a situation where we split the reps because they both could help us on defense as well. They’re both pretty good athletes.”

For the fullbacks to perform well, the offensive line must also perform well, and Shannon was very pleased with that unit, especially in the running game.

“I felt like the offensive line did a pretty good job,” Shannon said. “We had a few breakdowns when we tried to throw the ball, but running the ball we opened up some really big holes. Even passing the ball I thought we did ok. We haven’t really had a quarterback who could throw it like Aaron (Nunez) can in a while, so we’re working more on pass blocking and we’re learning a lot.

“It’s especially tough in situations like this where everything is so fast paced. Defenses are all trying new things and you’re basically getting the kitchen sink thrown at you. But still, overall I was pleased.”

Nunez, a second-year starter, has shown development as a passer, and it could lead to a more versatile Badger offense this season.

“I felt like Aaron did really well,” Shannon said. “We put in a few plays to put the ball in his hands, and he didn’t look bad throwing it. We didn’t have a lot of completions, but we had a lot of dropped passes. If he keeps throwing it like he did, I’m going to be comfortable with him dropping back at any time. The pass blocking will come along and so will the receiving. It’s a lot different when you have a week to work on one particular team as opposed to playing several teams right in a row, six plays at a time.”

The Badgers will compete in one more team camp at Conway today before ending their summer competition schedule. After that it’s all FAS Badger workouts.

“That stands for functional agility strengthening,” Shannon said. It’s a fast-paced, hour-and-a-half workout that really pushes them to the limit. We got it from Greenwood and started it last summer.”