Offense asserts itself late in the week for Hornets

A week that started with the defense making a statement ended with the offense answering for the Bryant Hornets football team as it prepares for the 2009 season and the opener in the Salt Bowl against the rival Benton Panthers on Friday, Sept. 4.

"The offense really progressed on Thursday," stated head coach Paul Calley. "We struggled Monday and Tuesday."

This was the first full week of workouts in pads.[more]

"We've been running a lot of the same plays," continued the coach, "getting a lot of reps doing the same thing over and over. The defense had caught up with us. It was like they knew what we were going to do before we did it. So, we put in a few new wrinkles, some things we're going to do against Benton and saw a lot of improvement on Thursday. Not with just the actual play itself but the overall execution.

"The intensity picked up on both sides of the ball," Calley noted. "We had a lot of licks passed and some tempers flared and there were people competing. That's what we were hoping for. If you have a group of kids that will compete, you're always going to have a chance to win. And I saw that Thursday."

Earlier in the week, the defense had started to use some of its stunts and it had caused the offense problems. Calley had been shuffling the personnel but appears to have it mostly settled.

"I've got them on one side or the other now," he said. "I'm not switching them back and forth now. I'm just trying to find guards and tackles. The defenses we're going to see early on are a lot of gap defenses. You know, people lined up in the gaps and you've got to be able to cut off those stunts in the gaps. Later on in the year, we're going to play a lot of 50-front teams that leave the guard uncovered, which means my smaller guards could play against those teams and we'll be okay. But when we play gap-control teams, we're going to have to have bigger people. 

"I know Kaleb Burns is going to be the starting left tackle," he said. "Brett Clemons right now is the starting right guard. As far as left guard goes, it could be Landon Pickett or Ben Seale. Pickett has the edge right now just because of his size but Ben can play. At center, right now, Justin Rauch has got the starting nod but I feel like Landon Pickett, if he wasn't starting on defense, could start at center. He definitely adds depth at center and guard. At right tackle is Austin Johnson. Austin shows signs of improvement every practice. But there's still some guys pushing him. I think Jordan Murdock could play a little either guard or tackle. I think that Billy Bearden could play a little bit at either spot."

Turning to the other side of the ball, Calley said, "Defensively, I have been very pleased with our progress. We've still got some positions that are question marks but the overall defense, the people flying to the football and being physical up front and the linebackers making reads and being in the right spot has been encouraging.

"I expected us to be behind but we're really ahead of where I thought we would be," he concluded. 

"We're continuing with a lot of teaching," mentioned defensive coordinator Steve Griffith. "We feel like we're making a lot of progress. The secondary coverage with the linebackers filling in, we're getting where we want to be there. We're not allowing the holes in coverage we were earlier in the fall and through 7-on-7. We're getting a better understanding of where we need to be and what our roles are in there.

"The front seven, in inside drills going against the offensive line, we're getting there," he added. "We've still got a little ways to go. Some of our technique still needs a little work but the hustle has been really, really good. The guys have been paying attention and they're making progress from day to day. That's what we want this time of year."

The least experienced area of the defense coming into the season was linebacker. Griffith commented, "They are all coming along really well. Hunter Mayall is established now in the middle. Trey Sowell, a senior, has moved to the outside and Trey's been having an outstanding fall. Hunter's getting better every day.

"Right now, Brennan Bullock is playing on the weakside and improving. We're getting some depth from some guys, Collin Chapdelaine, James Glasper, Jacob Brady and Holden Chavis have all been coming along. They're getting better. What they have to understand is that, on any given play, they could be called on to be in the ballgame. So, we've really got to bring them up to a little higher level so they're ready to step in on Friday night in the 7A-Central. They're getting there."

The Hornets will continue its afternoon workouts (4 to 8 p.m.) Monday and Tuesday then, with school starting on Wednesday, their normal practice schedule will commence during fourth block (around 2 p.m.).


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