PRESEASON CAMP UPDATE: Day Seven - First Two-A-Day
Aug. 15, 2009
NORFOLK, Va. - The ODU Football team had its first two-a-day Saturday.
"Once again, I really liked the competition," said Wilder of Saturday's practice. "Your concern when you go to your first two-a-day is whether or not you're going to get the same effort in the afternoon that you get in the morning."
The Monarchs went with uppers in the morning workout and full pads in the afternoon. The coaching staff purposely waited until the afternoon practice to have the team suit up in the pads knowing it would be more difficult and more mentally challenging for the squad.
It certainly did not faze the Monarchs. Twenty minutes into the afternoon practice, "Sudden Change" was thrown at the group. The ball was put down and it was a live scrimmage.
"With a young team, that could have set them back," said Wilder. "They could have come in made mistakes, but they didn't. They came right into scrimmage and said `hey, let's go, we've got to play.'"
During sudden change, freshman wide receiver Marquel Thomas (Va. Beach, Va.) helped lead the offense to a first down, while defensively freshman defensive back Markell Wilkins (Hampton, Va.) caught an interception and ran the ball in for a touchdown and fellow classmate and running back Carvin Powell (Chesapeake, Va.) had a great pass break-up.
The defense dominated from start to the last drive. Some of the defensive highlights included a sac by redshirt freshman defensive linemen Michael R. Williams (Norfolk, Va.), redshirt sophomore lineman Justin Hill (Midlothian, Va.) with a pass break-up., senior lineman Jason Fuller (Va. Beach, Va.) causing quarterback Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.) to fumble (although DeMarco was able to recover to keep the ball on the offense), freshman defensive back Mike Mason (Suffolk, Va.), one of the newest Monarchs on the roster, with an interception right outside the endzone, and junior defensive back A.T. Aoelua (Pago, Pago, America Samoa) with a hard tackle stopping Thomas up the sideline. Aoelua's hit got a huge roar from his defensive teammates.
The offense had a couple drives in there as well. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Reamon (Newport News, Va.) scrambled and hit junior wide receiver Jamal Johnson (Va. Beach, Va.) up the sideline for a gain. Fellow classmate Dan Pitts (Va. Beach, Va.) helped lead the offense to a trio of first downs by hitting rookie wide receiver Monty Smalley (Richmond, Va.) twice and connecting with Reid Evans (Hampton, Va.).
However, the "winner" of today's practice was not determined until the very end. It was fourth and goal for the offense with the ball on the nine. The offense had to score to "win the game" with the losers having to run pair of gassers. That really picked up the intensity of the last couple of plays and the offense scored on fourth and two.
"I anticipated that would happen today," said Wilder of defense forcing the tempo for most of the practice. "We put some new blitzes in today and our defense executed their blitz scheme very well."
The end of practice also saw the coaching staff challenge the Monarchs with special teams doing different substitutions.
Monarch Moments: Learn From Your Mistakes: With the players trying to memorize "Where am I?", "What team am I on?", and "Where am I on the depth chart?", the coaching staff has been very pleased with the progress. On special teams this afternoon, the Monarchs only had one mistake in the 15 reps they did. On one play, one Monarch missed his call to join his teammates out on the field resulting in the entire squad to run from sideline to sideline. A few plays later, the Monarchs made sure it didn't happen again. With a special teams member tending to an injury, the chatter started flying on the sidelines that a back-up was needed and make sure he got into the drill on time. "They figured out who wasn't on the field and then right away they got to his back-up," noted Wilder. "There was no way to know what team I was going to call onto the field. So the kids figured it out." Why is that of importance to Wilder and his staff? "The reason you want that to happen is because when you get to a game and all of sudden the offense gets stopped, and you've got to go to the punt team, if somebody on the offense gets hurt on third down and he's on the punt team, he's got to get in the next play so you can punt the ball and not have a time-out. That's what I wanted them to respond to...Next man in. Someone gets injured, the next guy has got to get on the field."
And On The Seventh Day, The Monarchs Rested: The Monarchs are away from the field on Sunday having had six straight days of preseason workouts. The team will still have lifting on the schedule and some Monarchs will work on strength and conditioning. The position groups will meet in the afternoon and the team will meet in the early evening to review next week's schedule.
Coming Up: The Monarchs will have one practice on Monday and go back to two-a-days on Tuesday. The team will have its first scrimmage on Tuesday. All practices and scrimmages are closed to the public.