Friday, May 23, 2014

SPORTS STORY>>Jacksonville all offense in spring drills

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils don’t have a head football coach and most of the remaining staff has been busy with spring sports and state tournaments, but about 50 players have still come out for spring football practice with offensive coordinator Adam Thrash overseeing activities.

And it’s been an offensive-oriented seven practices so far.

“We put in a basic man defense and that’s what we’ve been working against,” said Thrash. “But it’s been an offensive spring. We’re teaching them man because that’s the easiest thing to learn and we’re young. I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to be playing all the time, but that’s what we’re going with now.”

Thrash wasn’t specific about what kind of offense the team has been working on, apparently because there is no specific offense.

“Our offense is going to be a surprise,” Thrash said. “I know me to run a full spread being from Pulaski Academy, but we’re doing a little bit of everything.”

Personnel has dictated the schemes, according to Thrash.

“We’ve got Lamont Gause, an All-State running back, back, and we have to get him the ball,” Thrash said. “We’ve also got some speed on the edges and we have to get the ball out there, too. We’re trying to find creative ways to get the ball to the playmakers. That’s basically what our offense is about.”

Thrash wouldn’t even rule out a loaded backfield and two tight end sets.

“That’s an option,” Thrash said. “That’s a possibility. There are advantages and disadvantages to that. When you spread them out there are fewer to block and fewer mistakes to be made blocking. When you bring them in you have more blockers and fewer people to beat once you’re past the line. So we’re not ruling out anything.”

Thrash also says there has been lots of heavy conditioning work, and that enthusiasm and work ethic have remained high in spite of the tougher practice sessions.

“We have guys that want to be here,” Thrash said. “When I call practice, they want to keep working. And that’s great to see.

“We have conditioned hard. What we’re trying to do is like what (Nick) Saban said. ‘We want to get the right guys on the bus and the wrong guys off the bus.’ And that’s happening. We’ve got quite a bit fewer here now than we did when spring started. We’re weeding out the ones who are just here for a jersey.”

Some former players have helped out with practice, including Razorback sophomore Kevin Richardson – who has helped the defensive backs.

While Jacksonville lost some speed to graduation and transfer, a couple of new faces will help fill that void. Tresean Lambert and Jaylon Tucker have been out for spring drills after running two legs in Jacksonville’s state championship 4x100-meter relay team.

Lambert has been working with the offense and Tucker with the defense, but Thrash, knowing the precariousness of his situation as one of dozens of applicants for the head-coaching position, says that could change.

“I want to two-platoon and Tucker would be a defensive guy,” Thrash said. “You can’t have all your best guys on one side of the ball. But that’s not my call. It’s nobody’s call at the moment so that’s what we’re going with.”

Jacksonville has used seven of their 10 available practices and will complete their spring allotment next week.