Tuesday, August 06, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke taking it slow early on

Leader sportswriter

Slow is generally undesirable when it comes to football, but with a full week of practice where pads and contact are limited, slow is exactly the approach Doug Bost and the Lonoke coaching staff is taking during the first week of fall football practice.

The Jackrabbits are in good shape from a numbers standpoint with a roster right at 50 players after a successful spring and a summer full of team camps and 7-on-7 action. That gives Bost the luxury of ironing out the small details for a week until full contact can begin the second week.

“With spring practice, you have two solid weeks,” Bost said. “And of course, you’ve got your team camps and 7 on 7 all summer. This first week, it’s just helmets, so you’ve got to come back and slow everything down, make sure everyone is on the same page. We’ll take three full days to install the offense and just really slow everything down. That’s about all you can do in helmets, work on a lot of technique.”

Conditioning is also a priority for Lonoke during the first week. With a good portion of offensive and defensive work done in the spring, the Jackrabbits are already familiar with the play book with plenty of time for review before the start of the season on Sept. 6 against Star City.

“We stopped a lot of the running so we could focus on the plays back in the spring,” Bost said. “We picked our running back up all through July, and of course, this whole month now, there’s a lot of conditioning, getting ready for that first game.

“You go Sept. 6 and you’re playing on Friday night, it’s probably going to be 100 degrees, so this is a time where you get your conditioning down. If everybody is here that we think, it should be 50 kids. We might be minus four or five, you never know, but 50 are what we’re counting on.”

The Jackrabbits have been through a lot of changes at quarterback over the past year with the graduation of D.J. Burton in the spring. Two other prospects did not work out at the position before Bost settled on former receiver Cody Smith.

“Cody Smith, we’re working him at quarterback,” Bost said. “We’ve probably been to four or five team camps, and he’s really moved us, especially in the run game. He’s really looked good. We’ve done a lot of reading as far as the D linemen, and he’s getting real good at doing that. I’ve been real pleased with how he’s looked.

“The linemen, we’ve said we have to keep them healthy this year. There are a lot of them we are counting on for both sides of the ball, and they’ve looked real good this spring and summer.”

Smith is a senior with good feet to match his hands, which seems to fit Bost’s style much better than the pocket passers he was looking at a year ago. Behind Smith will be sophomore Savantee Roundtree, who led the junior Jackrabbits last season.

“That goes back to ’09 when we had Michael Nelson,” Bost said. “He could move. The offense that we run, we’re a lot better with that. Even with Savantee, he’s a big, tall kid, but he ran a 4.9 the other day, so he gives us speed back there. Any time you have a mobile quarterback that’s a dual threat, that puts pressure on the defense, and that’s the angle we’re really working.”