PRESEASON CAMP UPDATE: Day Eleven - Mental and Physical Challenges
By ODU Athletics
Aug. 19, 2009
NORFOLK, Va. - Wednesday's ODU football practice as much about physical preparation as it was mental preparation. Fresh off a two-a-day, which included the team's first scrimmage of the preseason, the Monarchs took the field twice today with a major emphasis on third down drills and working in the red zone.
"We wanted to challenge them mentally," said head coach Bobby Wilder. "That's why we set this practice at 3:30 in the afternoon after a scrimmage last night. We went hard at it for two hours with a heat index with what I'm sure was over 100 degrees. That was part of the plan, to challenge them, and they responded."
Following last night's scrimmage, Wilder noted that third down was an area that he and his coaching staff were going to put emphasis on today. The offense looked to have done a better job of breaking through the defensive barrier today.
Early in the second session, the Monarchs captured first down on five straight plays. Running back Jamar Parham (Chesterfield, Va.) continued to shine with three third down plays. He had a pair of receptions, including the last one where Bobby Cooper (Davidsonville, Md.) scrambled into the backfield, but managed to find his classmate to get the first down.
Last night it seemed the passes where on and the routes where on, but the Monarchs had a bit of trouble hanging onto the ball. Redshirt freshman Michael E. Williams (Manassas, Va.) had the ball bounce around in his hands on a throw from Cooper, but managed to gain control and get the down and rookie Marquel Thomas (Va. Beach, Va.) also had the ball pop up from his grip, but held on with three defenders surrounding him to gain another first down.
Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.) twisted around in the backfield to find redshirt freshman receiver Chris Lovitt (Stafford, Va.), who then shot clear across the width of the field with a trail of defenders on him to capture a first down.
"If you are good on third down," said Wilder, "offensively, you want to be converting at a 45 percent clip, which puts you up near the top of the country if you are doing that. Whether it's third and one or third and 10, we want to be getting those first downs."
The defense also had its moments as well. Redshirt sophomore Chad King (Springfield, Va.) caught an interception inside the 20 and was ready to race downfield and redshirt freshman Donald Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) intercepted a pass at the down marker.
The Monarchs also did a breakdown drill on kickoff return.
At the end of the practice the squad had to run five half gassers.
"They did it," said Wilder of running the team at the end of practice. "They competed, and didn't complain."
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Sunny Florida: There was reason behind running gassers at the end of practice tonight. Coach Wilder noted that their first away game is in Jacksonville, Florida with 1:00 p.m. kick and he wanted his troops to be ready to deal with a heat index that could reach over 100 degrees.
Know the Sticks: One thing you'll hear the coaching staff yell during practice is "Know the sticks! Know the sticks!" The staff wants the guys to be aware of the yard markers with the Monarchs knowing where they have to get to on offense and defensively knowing where they have to keep the opposition inside of to stop them.
Numbers Game: The Monarchs ran 111 plays from scrimmage at last night's scrimmage. If you include special teams, that number rises to near 125. In the upcoming Saturday scrimmage, which is CLOSED to the public, Wilder will get into more situational football. For last night's contest, he was looking for his squad to get more into the flow of game day.
Up For the Challenge: One of the things that is impressing Wilder about his football Monarchs is they are always up for a challenge and always respond to a challenge. "They don't complain," he noted. "They come out and work. What that does is build a good, solid foundation. Then ultimately we can start turning some of these practices over to the players, where they are setting the tempo instead of the coaches."