"That's why we practice, coach."
That's what the players were reminding Bryant head football coach Paul Calley as spring workouts continued on Wednesday.
"The effort's good, the want-to is there, just sometimes, mentally, we couldn't pull it all together," Calley said of the workout in which the offense and defense worked separately after watching film of Tuesday's full-contact scrimmage. Calley, the offensive line coach, along with offensive coordinator Dale Jones and receivers coach Jason Hay worked with their group while defensive coordinator/linebacker coach Steve Griffith, d-line coach Brad Stroud and secondary coach Kris Clark put their guys through their paces.[more]
"We can't remember how to line up half the time," Calley continued. "Somebody can show them exactly what to do and they go to do it and they can't. So, it's just going to take some time to get everything like they want it. As the kids say, 'That's why we practice, coach.'
"We watched film and tried to correct mistakes today," he added. "It's amazing what one step means. We looked at a lot of false steps today, bad angles and, hopefully, we'll get that corrected. I think they realized it when they saw it on film, 'Aw, I took a false step' or 'I took a bad angle' or 'I didn't get off on the ball' or 'I was too high.' When they recognize it, you feel a whole lot better and know you've at least taught them something. That's all positive.
"We're making some headway on offense," Calley asserted. "Our offensive line has the potential to be really good, I think."
That's despite the fact that only one starter, Kaleb Burns (5-11, 240), returns. Brett Clemons (5-9, 200), Justin Rauch (5-11, 280), Ben Seale (5-11, 200), Steven Lacamu (5-10, 220), and Austin Johnson (6-3, 240) are among those working to fill the vacancies left by the graduates.
"I think we found a fullback (Marcus Harris, 5-9, 210)," Calley mentioned. "I think we found ourselves another running back (James Jones, 5-9, 220) to go with (Chris) Rycraw. Our quarterbacks are throwing the ball well and our receivers are catching the ball well and blocking at times. It's just going to get better, I think."
Rycraw, as a junior, set school records in rushing yardage (1,514), attempts (284) and touchdowns in a season (17) and in a game (four).
Of the defense, Griffith said, "We backed off contact and spent a lot of time in the film room looking at Monday and Tuesday's practice. Then we came out and spent an extended period of time in drill work. We spent a lot of time in team (Tuesday) so we went back to drill work and worked those fundamentals again.
"We were looking for a lot of recognition today more than heavy contact or anything," he added. "I feel like we made some progress in that, making sure we line up and get our base reads taken care of.
"We've got a lot of new kids," Griffith noted. "Looking in January at what we had and looking at the progress they've made through off-season with lots and lots of hard work in the weight room and running, so many of them are much better football players than they were at the end of the last football season. We're optimistic right now."
Reviewing the defensive line, Griffith mentioned junior-to-be Josh Hampton at defensive tackle. "He got a lot of playing time last year and he's looked really, really good," he said. "Very physical and very mobile for a big guy (6-2, 255).
"Ronnie Maxwell (5-10, 275) moved in from J.A. Fair and has been a pleasant surprise," continued the coach. "He's a defensive tackle that's very aggressive, can run."
With a chuckle, Griffith admitted he didn't think he'd ever had a 275-pound defensive lineman at Bryant. In recent seasons, 200-pound defensive linemen have been few.
"Then we've got guys like Mitchell Wise (5-10, 175) and Dustin Grimmett (5-9, 205), Matt Jones (5-9, 210) and Landon Pickett (5-11, 225) that give us some depth in there at defensive tackle," he continued.
"Our defensive ends are coming along." he added, mentioning Ryan Cox (5-11, 200) and Blake Heil (6-2, 215). "They are guys that haven't had a lot of playing time but they're each day getting a little bit better. Ross Smith (6-1, 175) gives us some depth at defense end and we're even looking at a couple of the offensive guys right now just kind of playing games just to see if there's anybody else that can add some depth in there.
"So far, defensive line play has been pretty good," Griffith concluded.
The Hornets will be back in pads on Thursday, Calley said.
"We're going to go outside if at all possible," he insisted. "I'm tired of being cooped up in here (the fieldhouse practice area). We've had to shorten practice and practice in shifts and we're sick of it. I think if it's even halfway dry — the practice field's probably still too wet — we're going to go on the game field."