Hornets show the benefits of Wednesday’s teaching day during Thursday workout

By Rob Patrick

Working in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts, the Bryant Hornets got back to some basics on Wednesday as they continued to prepare for the start of the 2010 football season. Head coach Paul Calley and his staff used the day for teaching, working, as he said, “on the little things.”

The results of Wednesday’s session showed in Thursday’s return to pads, according to offensive backs coach Dale Jones and secondary coach John Wells.[more]

“We spent a lot of individual coaching time with all of our skill guys,” Jones said of Wednesday’s workout. “Coach (Jason) Hay with the receivers, Coach Calley with the o-line and me with the quarterbacks and running backs, just coaching up timing and steps and footwork and things like that. And it showed up pretty good today.”

“We had a lot of corrections to make,” Wells said of the defense. “We slowed it down. Right now, we’re trying to get a lot of reps and get a lot of evaluations. We’re making a lot of corrections. When we scrimmage then take a day and teach, they’re really picking things up. They’re really seeing it and they’re understanding it and they’re making the corrections.”

As they have every day, the Hornets coaches continued to video every practice and, after the work outside, they took the team in to view the video so the players can see their mistakes. After Thursday’s workout, each coach reviewed video in a separate room of the fieldhouse with their particular group. While Calley went over tape with the offensive line, Jones reviewed with the backs and Hay with the receivers. Wells had the defensive backs together while linebackers coach Steve Griffith and d-line coach Brad Stroud reviewed with their respective personnel.

“In the secondary, we’ve got a lot of tweeners,” Wells said. “When I was in the scouting department at Buffalo (in the NFL), we called guys them tweeners. I think what you really want in a defensive group when you look and evaluate, if you can take your corner-types and move them in to safeties, if you can take safeties and move them up to outside backers, and so on. In other words, if you can move guys from the corner in closer to the ball, I think you’re in a really good situation. And I think we’ve got a few of those guys. And I told them, we’re going to try to get them reps at all those positions.

“So that’s what we’re doing,” he continued. “So we’re having to go back and re-teach a lot of it but a lot of them are picking it up. When we slowed things down, we started sharing people.”

Wells said he assured the players that having that sort of versatility is good.

“A lot of times, we have had to package (personnel) a nickel or dime depending on who we were playing,” Wells stated, referring to different defensive alignments. “But we may not have to this year because we have those tweeners, because we’ve got a guy that can play man on a slot (receiver) and still play at linebacker. We don’t have to get a Sam linebacker out and put a nickel DB in. He’s already there.”

It’s basically an ability to adjust to situations and formations without having to change personnel.

Of the offense, Jones said, “Our timing is not where we want it to be but our timing in the passing game — we’re getting closer. We’re getting good protection most of the time and the timing’s coming. We missed a couple of deep balls just by a little bit. We had a guy open, we got it off on time, just missed by a little bit getting them completed.

“As far as our short passing game, the timing is pretty much there,” he added. “We may make a bad read once in a while but, for the most part, our short passing game is looking close to ready to go.

“Protection with the backs is better, the quarterback’s getting the ball out on time when he’s supposed to more often. It’s not there every time but it’s there more than it’s not there.”

Looking ahead, Jones said, “We still have a few things in our run game to add. We still have a handful of formations to get in, all the run plays out of those formations, our play-action out of those formations and our combinations. We’ve probably got 65 or 70 percent of the offense in. We’re getting more in each day.

“It’s just a matter of continuing to execute,” he continued. “It’s hard to execute every single day because we have so many formations. If we can keep our timing down as we continue to add formations, we’re going to continue to catch up as far as execution goes.”

Wells said the secondary will continue to work on disguising coverages.

“Last year, we really were a man (coverage) team,” he recalled. “To me, there’s three types of coverages. There’s your true zone where everybody’s eyes are on the ball and we’re dropping to different zones and you’re playing that zone. And there’s holes in zones. Then, there’s what we like to call cover-four where we read in progressions. We’re reading, ‘If this guy pushes me, I man up. If he crosses, then I zone.’ That cuts down on holes in the secondary but it also gets you closer to the run and we’ve got to stop the run in this conference. Then there’s man.

“We played a lot of that progression read (last year) but I think we’ve got guys now where we can really mix all three in. (At the Class 7A level), you can’t sit in one coverage,” Wells stated. “Quarterbacks are getting taught how to read coverages and you sit in one coverage all day, they’ll pick you apart. So, I think, disguising, making everything we do pretty much look the same then going to it, I think we can do all three of those. I’m really excited about that.”

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