Spring Update - Practice No. 9 - Special Teams & Third Down

April 12, 2010
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

April 12, 2010

NORFOLK, Va. -- Coming off a highly charged and energized scrimmage on Saturday, the Old Dominion football Monarchs were back to work in practice on Monday afternoon.

The Monarchs had a shorten practice Monday taking the field for an hour and a half instead of the normal two hour workouts. The team spent the balmy afternoon at the Powhattan Sports Complex emphasizing special teams, particularly the return units, and spending time working on third down drills.

"Coming out of this scrimmage Saturday, it was without a doubt our best scrimmage to date in our young history," noted ODU head coach Bobby Wilder. "That scrimmage was as close to game speed as we've had since I've been here. The challenge with today's practice was to try and come off of that scrimmage where we had tremendous intensity and improve upon that today."

The focus on third down situations was having the players grow on down and distance. The offense and defense spilt on the drill with newcomer signal caller Dominique Blackman (Los Angeles, Calif.) breaking the line on two keepers and finding wide receiver Dorian Jackson (Colonial Heights, Va.) and tight end James Edwards (Va. Beach, Va.) past the chains. On the other side of the ball, the defense was able to break up a handful of plays, while defensive tackles Nate Barnes (Newport News, Va.) and Jeff Crawford (Va. Beach, Va.) kept Blackman from crossing the line of scrimmage for a huge stop.

"I'm really pleased with the kids we've challenged," noted Wilder of practices to date, "and how they've responded."


OPEN TO THE PUBLIC: ODU's next scrimmage on Saturday, April 17th at 2:00 p.m. at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium will be open to the public. ODU's student-athletes will be available for autographs and fans are encouraged to bring their Monarch gear to be signed by the Monarchs.

FUMBLE AWARENESS DRILLS: If you were at practice Monday, you've might of noticed some Monarchs off to the side doing some drills on their own. It is all apart of Coach Keita Malloy's "Fumble Awareness Program" or how to better secure the football. "We place a very high emphasis on it," said Wilder. "We were third in the nation last year in turnover ratio and there's a reason for it. Its drills like what Coach Malloy was doing today. Everyday in practice we spend the first five minutes with the offense doing on ball security and defense working on take-aways." ODU averaged just 1.45 turnovers per contest in 2009, right behind Liberty (1.91) and Southern (1.64).

I GOT YOUR BACK: Linebacker Mateus Porter (Pacifica, Calif.) had a rather interesting pass break-up and near interception on Monday. Attempting to pick off a pass and having the ball batted around and go behind him, Porter reached his hands behind his back. Able to get his finger tips on the ball, he kept tapping the ball a few times and staggered a few yards down field attempting to get control...all while doing this behind his back.

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED: During a second down drill, quarterback Dominique Blackman dropped the snap, but immediately recovered and completed an 80-yard pass to Nick Mayers (Va. Beach, Va.).