Bryant head football coach Buck James can’t wait for school to start.
“Once we get in school, then we’ll have a routine,” he noted. “And that’s what we need. That’s what every football player needs, what every kid needs, a routine.”
James’ first Bryant Hornets team is set to begin fall practice on Monday, Aug. 1, with a workout from 8 to 11 a.m.
It’s not your daddy’s two-a-days. The Hornets will practice for about two hours and 45 minutes, James said, including lifting and some “official first day” formalities.
“We’re going to continue doing what we’ve been doing all summer long,” he acknowledged. “It’s just going to be the, quote, “official time that you can start”. We’ll have to go through the process of acclimating our kids to wearing pads again even though we could wear pads in the teams camps and stuff like that (during the summer).”
The team will be restricted to shorts and helmets to begin the workouts but, later in the week, will have the pads back on in advance of a scrimmage at 9 a.m., on Saturday.
“I want (the scrimmage) to be a big deal because this will be our really first look at what we can do with our offense, our defense, all of our groups and everything, to put everything that we’ve done all summer long together and see how well our kids compete and how well we’re able to execute what we’re doing,” James stated.
The coach and his staff will look to the scrimmage to help begin to determine who will be getting playing time once the season opens with the Salt Bowl at War Memorial Stadium on Friday Sept. 2, against the rival Benton Panthers.
“It’ll be a process, probably up to the last week,” James asserted. “I don’t want to name starters or anything else like that until after the Pulaski Academy scrimmage (on Tuesday, Aug. 23). I want it to be an open competition.
“I want guys to compete,” he emphasized. “I want guys to know what it’s like to fail and have somebody else do it for them and see how they like that, and how much they want to compete. That’s the only way we’re going to get better if we narrow the margin between what we feel is our first group of guys and what we feel is our second group of guys. That will make us a whole lot better football team.”
Practice will be from 8 to 11 a.m. this week then, starting Monday, Aug. 8, will switch to the afternoon and evening from 5 to 8 p.m., due to teacher inservice. Friday, Aug. 12, the workout will be back on the morning schedule. School starts — along with the routine that James’ desires — on Monday, Aug. 15.
“We’re going to try to keep it consistent with the times,” the coach said. “We’re going to try to keep it consistent in what we’re trying to do. We’re going to really start back on Monday (Aug. 1) with the same things we did in spring football. We’re going to install our base offense, our base defense, our base run game, our base pass game. We’re going to have a four-day install then we’re going to play the game on Saturday.
“Then we’re going to turn around the next week and do our install again but we’re going to — say, if we’re going to run a go-route on this play, we might run a post on the same thing,” he explained. “If we run an out, we might run an out-and-up. If we run a curl, we’ll run a curl and go. Just add a little wrinkle to it. But we’ll go back over our install again so our kids will know without a doubt what to do on every play, both offensively and defensively. That’s what it’s supposed to be about.
“We’re going to do a lot of teaching, a lot of basic fundamentals, first-step stuff, first three-step stuff, work really hard on a kicking game and make sure we’ve got it all in place and that we’ve got our teams in order where guys can compete for spots,” James mentioned.
Asked about the progress over the summer, the coach said, “We’re starting to get some guys that are floating to the top as far as our ones and our twos and our threes. But we still have so many question marks. We want to see what some of the kids can do that play on defense on the offensive side of the ball and some guys that play on offense and what they can do on the defensive side of the ball.
“Who our quarterback is going to be and what we can do with that quarterback,” he continued. “Our quarterbacks have made tremendous improvement this summer. Where we started out and where we’re at now is daylight-and-dark different. We’ve got to find out what we’re going to do and how well we’re going to be able to do it and what we do best.”