By Rob Patrick
The Bryant Hornets football team completed its first week in full pads today and, as is often the case in fall workouts, the defense may be a little ahead of the offense at this point but both coordinators — Steve Griffith on defense and Lance Parker on offense — were pleased with the work that has been put in.
Parker, in his first year as offensive coordinator, has said he isn’t changing the tactics of the offense as much as some of the fine points.
“I’ve been impressed with the way we’re starting to get the structure down and changing guys in and out,” he said. “I think they’re picking up the terminology. Obviously, we haven’t arrived yet but I’ve been impressed with the progress. I think we’ve got everything in we’re going to do. Now it’s just a matter of repping it and getting better.
“If we don’t know what to do, we’re going to be constantly behind the eight ball,” he added. “It’s just going to come down to fundamentals, what steps you take, how you block, how you break down, how you carry the football, knowing situations. That’s how you get good. If they’re not good fundamentally, then it doesn’t matter what you do. We’ve just got to work to become better football players. We’ve got the scheme and the versatility to be good at whatever we want to do.”
Players go from station to station during Hornets practices. The coaches keep the players moving.
“About 40 minutes of the three hours is one-on-ones, two-on-twos getting after it,” Griffith related. “We don’t do it all at one time but it’s worked in for 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there. It’s not continuous. It’s not one of those Bobby Petrino 192-play scrimmages but we’re getting 10 plays in, moving back to drills then coming back for 20 plays, something like that. And it’s helping our conditioning when we do that. That’s a lot better conditioning than just lining up and running.
“We’re going full speed through to the tackle then we’re pulling up on the tackle just to try to save wear and tear on the running backs and receivers,” he mentioned. “Within the line, the blocking and everything, it’s all-out full-speed, let’s-get-it. And we’re having some good battles up there.”
“We can simulate everything up to the point of tackling and we don’t have risk a bunch of injuries with wrapping up and tackling to the ground,” Parker said. “It’s been good. We’re getting a lot of quality reps. They’re smart kids and they know how to practice. They’ve done a good job.”
The defense returns three starters in end Tim Kelly, linebacker Tyree Reese and cornerback Aaron Bell. It’s been bolstered on the line by the move of offensive linemen Kordell Boykins and Cortez Williams to the inside positions on the defensive front.
“We’re very excited about the mobility of the front seven,” Griffith said. “The defensive line has looked very quick. The linebacker crew is starting to come on. In the secondary, we’ve got some young guys but they’re really starting to pick things up now. We feel pretty good about how things are looking at this point. Our overall team quickness and speed is improved from where we were even the last couple of years. Hopefully, we can continue to build on that.
“Boykins and Williams have really made a great transition,” he continued. “Cortez is about 260, 265. Kordell is 230, 235 and moving really, really well. Jared Koon up front is about 215 but extremely strong and very, very mobile. Of course, Tim Kelly’s doing a great job. (End) Justin Hollingshead hurt his ankle a few weeks ago. It’s recurring so that’s hurt him a little bit. He gives us depth at the end. Austin May, we’ve moved from linebacker to d-end to try to get a little more depth and he had really good week. He made a lot of progress. He worked with the first team some today. That’ll give us six guys that we can rotate in that defensive line. That’s something we feel very good about.
“Our guys in the secondary are coming on,” Griffith said. “Bell’s the only one coming back but (Drew) Tipton and (Mar’Kevious) Nelson, both sophomores, are playing well at corner. Darian Jarrett’s giving us help at corner. We’ve got three in a rotation at safety with (Davis) Nossaman, (Brendan) Young and Jake Johnson. Each day they’re all getting better. Hopefully, by the time we open against Conway, we’ll be set at each spot and have some depth.”
Regarding his linebackers, Griffith related, “Stoney Stevens has had a great fall camp. He really looks good at Sam linebacker. (Bryce) Denker is really coming on and Tyree has looked so much better than he was last year.
“We’ll continue to add a few things in,” he mentioned, looking to next week. “Each day, we’re trying to add a little big more in. We hope by the end of next week, we’ll have most of what we want to do in. We’re starting to get good reps on things.”
Hornets' first week in pads assessed