The Arkansas State Red Wolves hit the field this past week for the beginning of spring practice under new head coach Hugh Freeze. Despite the fact that the team was only in shorts and helmets, it was obvious that there was a new intensity to the team.
Here are a few things to note about the first two days of spring ball.
Fast paced; High tempo offense being installed.
Coach Hugh Freeze had his team running hurry up no huddle style offense during the first two days of drills, and made sure that his team will be both conditioned and prepared to run such an offense.
"We want to snap the ball with about 25-28 seconds on the play clock. If we can do that, we will give ourselves a chance at having several more plays over the period of the game, and those may be the plays that we score on." said Freeze. "We are working on the things that are little to most people, but are big to us like making sure we hand the ball to the official as soon as the play is over and immediately getting back to the line of scrimmage."
Players enjoying new staff and game plan.
Several returning players have stated that they are enjoying the new style of football which has been brought to Arkansas State by Coach Freeze and his staff. Many of them feel the new energy can help put them over the top in the Sun Belt Conference.
"I just love my entire coaching staff. They have brought a new energy and a new level of intensity to the program." said linebacker Demario Davis. "The biggest change we've had is the energy. The energy and the intensity have helped to bring back the passion of playing football. I woke up and was ready to go to practice. It is fun to play the game again. I love the new defense and the new identity of the defense. We will be an attacking defense this year. It is going to be intense."
"It has been good to get back out here with the guys. I love the new tempo. We are practicing at game tempo this year, and not slowing things down very much." said quarterback Ryan Aplin. "I think that is going to help us this year. It is hard to get a read on the new defense, but that will help us as an offense because this is one of the toughest defenses I have seen. It will help prepare us for other teams for sure."
"Everything has been great. We came out with a good attitude and the team has given great effort." said running back Sir Gregory Thornton. "We are just working to get better for next year. The tempo is faster, and that is what could take us from good to great."
Coach Freeze tells what he wants out of his team.
"I want to see a fanatical effort with great attitudes, and let's be consistent." said Freeze. "If we are coaching the effort and the kids are giving us the effort with great attitudes from day one to day 15, then we as coaches will be able to correct everything we see on film. At the pace we want to practice it is impossible to correct everything out here [on the field], so we will use film sessions to correct the little things. Things like taking care of the football, making sure we give it to the official immediately after a play, and keeping the tempo up where we want it, and I want to see great competition at every spot."
Underclassmen are stepping up.
With the addition of a new fast paced, hurry up no huddle style offense, the coaches have been looking for guys to step up and fill in key roles. Two such young men have been former Warren, Ark. wide receivers Basmine Jones and Raheim Alford.
"We love those guys and would love [to have them step up]." said Freeze. "They would add some more depth to our receiving corps. I love Raheim as an athlete, and Basmine is just now learning the system because he was just a scout team guy last year, but he is really getting better."
Freeze is pleased with his staff.
"I love them all." said Freeze. "They are all my guys, so I refuse to think any other way about them."
Freeze loves Dave Wommack's defense.
The defensive coaches promised me in meetings that we would be much improved, and they certainly are." said Freeze. "One of our motto's as coaches is 'if it is broke, get it fixed.', and I think our defensive coaches are doing a great job of getting some things fixed, and I definitely think they are more gap sound now."
Other players standing out.
Coach Freeze mentioned several other players who are standing out to him.
Players include kicker Bobby Zalud who has been hitting 35-45 yard field goals consistently in practice.
Defensive back Kelcie McCray who has looked good in the defensive backfield while being able to get to the ball and challenge the passing game.
Freeze gives thoughts on sanctions.
Back to the practice field.
The Red Wolves will return to the practice field Monday at 3:30 PM, then move into pads on Wednesday at 3:30 PM and Thursday at 5:00 PM. All practices are open to the media and the public.
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