Coach Jones’ Worry Alleviated With Good Physical Practice On Thursday

August 21, 2009 · By · Filed Under Football 

Defensive huddle during the Jaguars first scrimmage on August 15, 2009. Photo by Doug Roberts.

The weather held off enough that Coach Jones continued with practice on Thursday. With only two days until the teams second full scrimmage, he wanted to make sure the Jags had a good physical practice, and he accomplished what he set out to do.

The staff completely deviated from what has come to be known as the ‘usual schedule.’ They began practice with about 30 minutes of special teams drills, focusing primarily on their hands team for onsides kicks. They about 20 minutes of small group, one-on-one competition at various different positions. Then they were put through about an hours worth of situational work during their two hour practice. and then ended the practice with another 30 minutes of special teams work in punt and kickoff coverage.

In the previous two and a half weeks of preseason camp, they would only work in live 11-on-11 drills for less than half that time. That changed on Thursday.

About an hour into the practice, after the special teams and individual workouts, the offense ran about 10 minutes of first-down plays from midfield. Then they started first-down drills from the defense’s 20 yard line, working on their red-zone offense. On the first possession with third-and-six, Myles Gibbon found Paul Bennett for a seven yard completion to get the first down. The very next play saw Santuan McGee run off the right tackle for a touchdown.

On the next two drives, the defense would turn up the pressure and turn it into their favor. Eddy Cabrera would intercept a pass at the goal line. Then Anthony Taylor would pitch in with two of the defenses three tackles for loss in the ensuing possession. The the final drive saw Marquise Diamond break up a pass at the end zone to force a field goal attempt, which was missed.

The final situation drills of the day had the offense lining up to run third-down plays of distances of nine, five and two yards. Again the defense stepped up with seven straight stops. Justin Dunn and Bryson James recorded key tackles during that run. However Gibbon would finally end the dought by hitting his 6’5″ receiver Courtney Smith to gain a much needed first down. But then the defense would again stop the offense short of first downs on six of the next eight tries.

Coach Jones was quite pleased with the physical workout and had the following to say. “I think we had a great physical day. The kids were ready mentally, and I noticed their legs were a little fresher as well. That’s probably because we’ve had some extra time off the last two days due to the weather. The coaches noticed in the weight room this morning that they were bouncing around, so now we’re thinking as a staff that we ought to plan more often to give them breaks during camp. Sometimes the rain forces you to do that, and I think that in this case it was really a good thing for us.”

Coach Jones had good things to say about the defense. “The guys on defense have been practicing extremely hard, and they are learning where they need to be,” he stated. “They were playing tentative the first couple of weeks because they were constantly asking themselves, ‘Where do I line up?’ Then, ‘What’s my responsibility?’ Then, ‘What is the offense doing?’ It’s hard to decipher all of those things, but now it is starting to become second nature and they are able to just react and run. The defense has definitely gotten more confident in what it is doing.”

Talking about changing up the practice routine, coach Jones had the following to say. “Any time you change the routine up, I think the kids like that. They hate to come out to practice and do the same thing every day. We’re trying to get them to learn about these different situations, and to understand certain things like when you’re inside the 25-yard line the quarterback can’t take a sack. Sometimes in practice you just run plays, but this is a more realistic scenario that they will see in games.”

Coach Jones also went on to explain why the staff, until now, has not had a lot of situational work during camp. “The first weeks we were just putting as much information in their heads as possible,” he said. “With the scrimmage coming up on Saturday and another next weekend, that’s when we really want to prepare them for everything they will see in a game.”

Since Wednesday’s practice was canceled, the Jags will be out on the practice field very early on Friday, at 5:45am. It will be a less physical workout in helmets and pads, but they will be working on passing drills and the special teams kicking game but no tackling. The reason for such an early workout, “We’re going to practice in the morning for two reasons,” Coach Jones stated. “One is because we want to try and avoid the rain, which has been a problem for us this week. And two, it will give the players a full 24 hours to rest before the scrimmage so hopefully their legs will be fresh.”

Also the Jags are scheduled for a 9am scrimmage at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday.

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