Spring Update - Practice No. 10 - In The Red Zone

April 14, 2010
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

April 14, 2010

NORFOLK, Va. -- The football Monarchs saw a lot of red at Wednesday's practice...the red zone that is. The coaching staff made a big emphasis on that and broke out the two-minute for the first time this spring.

Practice started with the team segment inside the 20, then the drills continued with the one-on-one's with the wide receivers and defensive backs in the red zone, followed by wide receivers, running backs, tight ends, and quarterbacks against the linebackers and defensive backs.

Two of the day's eight-play segments were all in red zone in third down situations.

"It really puts the offense with backs against the wall," said head coach Bobby Wilder of the drills. "The defense knows its third and long and they have to pass. That was the plan all along."

The third down drills in the red zone put the Monarch quarterbacks in difficult situations emphasing that even though a touchdown is the goal, ultimately you want to avoid a negative yardage situation pushing the team out of field goal range or a turnover.

The goal meanwhile for the defense was to get a turnover or force a field goal.

"We wanted to educate the kids on what the philosophy is down in the red zone today," noted Wilder. "Last year we were very successful on both sides of the ball. Defensively we gave up a lot of yardage between the 20's, but we didn't give up a lot of points."

Last year, the Monarchs were successful offensively converting 82 percent or 32 of their 39 red zone opportunities. Defensively, the squad is looking lower the 78 percent or 35 times out of 45 times the opponents were able to capitalize inside the ODU 20.

The practice was also the first time the two-minute drill was run.

"That changes everything. That changes the tempo of practice," said Wilder. "The kids are hurrying up on the ball to get the call in and everyone has to be quick."

The first of the two two-minute drills put the offense down by two with 1:30 left at their own 38. The offense managed to move the chains into the defense's territory but with 30 seconds left in the drill and down to fourth and five at the 35, cornerback T.J. Cowart caught an interception.

Quarterback Dominique Blackman (Los Angeles, Calif.) led the two's in the segment taking the offense into field goal range for Drew Hareza (McDonald, Pa.) on a short field.


During third and goal in the Monarch's first red zone drill, the defense saw linebacker J.J. Williams (Derby, Kan.) and safety Craig Wilkins (Washington, D.C.) both record interceptions. Cornerback Fred Credle (Chesapeake, Va.) had a pass break-up and fellow cornerback Markwell Wilkins' (Hampton, Va.) coverage of Marquel Thomas (Va. Beach, Va.) in the endzone denied the offense chances to score.

Prior to Saturday's scrimmage, ODU will host a FREE Youth Football Clinic for kids from the 5th-8th grade at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. Check-in begins at 11:30 a.m. with the clinic starting at noon. Kids participating in the clinic will receive a hot dog or hamburger. Coaches, parents, and participants are invited to stay and watch the scrimmage at the stadium at 2 p.m. RSVP to Chris Crouch by April 15th at 757-683-5447.

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.