Jaguars Hit The Practice Field Early To Begin Their First Ever Fall Camp

August 4, 2009 · Filed Under Football, News · 1 Comment 

Coach Jones looking on during the Jaguars first practice of fall camp. Photo by Doug Roberts.

The Jaguars had two firsts today for the program. This marked their first preseason football camp for their first season. But it was also the first time the Jags used their new field turf practice field on campus near the new fieldhouse.

Everyone was so excited that more than 150 people, including graduate and student assistants, managers and training staff were on the field before the 6:30am schedule and were ready for the day. The Jags practices for over two hours and worked through team and individual drills dressed in helmets and shorts.

Practice began with about 15 minutes of special teams work. Players not involved with this were working with position coaches around the perimeter of the field. Next they had about 25 minutes of individual drills for all players. Then the majority of the remaining practice time was focused on team drills with the offensive and defensive units separated on either end of the field. About midway through this portion of the practice, there was about 15 mintues of skeleton passing drills which was 7-on-7 drills. Then there was about a 10 minute session of 11-on-11 practice which included running plays.

Probably one of the biggest questions coming into practice is who will be the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. With Saucier, the most experienced quarterback in the Jaguars system, making the move to safety leaving that question without a definite answer right now. It wasn’t decided on the first day of practice, but coach Jones has said that the staff has a definite timeline in mind for deciding who will be where on the depth chart. Coach Jones reiterated, “By the end of week two we would like to have our ones and our twos picked. That doesn’t mean it will be over for the other players, but at some point we do have to make decisions.”

Coach Jones continued about the quarterback position, “Quarterbacks need a lot more reps than other players, it’s much more of a mental game at the position. Receivers and running backs need a lot less reps to get ready to play a game.”

Kyle Stewart, freshman from Tallahassee, FL, was quoted saying, “We’re all new to this, we don’t know the playbook very well but are learning. We’re equally talented, whoever picks it up the quickest and makes the biggest plays during camp is probably going to get the first shot.”

Myles Gibbon, freshman from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, also spoke about the quarterback position, “I think the coaches want to see someone who has some experience and can make the right reads. We have some great competition here between guys who have come from all over the place. It’s friendly and we’re having fun, but you want to make sure when you get in there you make the throw. I’m going to do my best and see what happens from there.”

Probably the player that somewhat has a leg up on the competition is Junior transfer Brennan Sim. His time spent at Oregon State has potentially given him two years of collegiant experience and maturity over his freshman counterparts. He has had two years to learn and understand the rigors of collegiant football.

Both Gibbon and Stewart spoke about the challenges they face in their transition from high school to college level football.

“It’s pretty big, so it was overwhelming when we were first given the book,” said Gibbon. “But, we’ve been working all through the summer in 7-on-7 drills so I’m used to the passing plays even though there’s a lot of concepts and many plays with receivers in different spots.”

“It’s a lot different than high school. The playbook is much bigger with a lot more formations and motions,” Stewart observed. “Plus, you have to read defenses a lot better than you need to in high school, and you need to learn many more signals. With all of this coming at you, you just have to keep working and studying the best you can.”

Coach Jones was quick to caution everyone about how much information one is able to get out of a single workout in helmets and shorts. “We’ll know more when we get into pads. You can tell a little bit about receivers and quarterbacks, and maybe defensive backs, but you can’t evaluate linemen and linebackers without pads on. Some of them may have looked great today but won’t when they start hitting, and others may not be as good in shorts as they are with their shoulder pads on.”

Coach Jones noted that, in addition to the heat and rain factors, two other factor were behind the early practice time. “I want some discipline in this program, and I think that waking up early and going to meetings before an early practice helps with that,” coach Jones said. “Plus, I had to do it when I was playing.”

Otherwise, Coach Jones was very upbeat and pleasant about their first practice. “The kids know it’s for real right now, so you could feel a heightened excitement on the field,” Coach Jones said. “They know that we have a game right around the corner, it’s always more exciting when you are looking forward to that.”

Gibbon said he was so excited that he couldn’t sleep Monday night. “We had to wake up a five, and I didn’t get to bed until 2:30 a.m. It’s great just to be out here, it’s been so long since I finished last season.”

The biggest difference for Coach Jones and his staff, when comparing the first day of spring practice to the first day of fall camp is personnel. He said “I saw a lot of better athletes out there. There are some quick guys out there who also have some size.”

Probably one of the most resonate and exciting statements was from recently announced transfer from Alabama, Charlie Higgenbotham. He said, “It was extremely exciting, I am thrilled to be here. I know a lot of these coaches know what they are talking about, and a lot of the players are great guys — everyone is working hard. Things are being run here the right way, which is really exciting.”

Having a player who has been under Nick Saban for two years say that Coach Jones and his staff are running things the right way is indeed something to be excited about.

The Jaguars will be on the practice field again on Wednesday at 7am to continue their preparation for the programs first ever game against Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy at 4pm on Saturday, September 5th at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.