Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring Practice To Do list

Saturday marks the start of Spring Practices. Limited to 15 practices and with a highly tenured staff, the past few springs have defined uneventful. Not so this season. Jags gets hands on with the guys on the field and the whole program (players, trainers, coaches, etc) all work together for the first time. There are a million things to do (and I touched on some of them over at AOL’s ACC Fanhouse), but here are the big “to do”s for our new coach.

1. Get the offensive line ready. Fortunately Jags made his name as an O Line coach, because he is going to working overtime with this group. He’s got to find two new starters, evaluate two part-time starters and teach a new scheme. One of Jags’ mentors, Alex Gibbs, has been consulting the new staff. This should get Logan and Turner up to speed on the Gibbs philosophy. Cherilus will anchor one side of the line. Then about eight guys are in play for the remaining spots. O-Line U is not going to fall apart overnight. But this spring needs more attention than it has in years.

2. Get the QBs up to speed. Because of injury and surgery, Matt Ryan is probably going to have to take it easy on the field. However, off the field he is in for a chore. The guy knew his old playbook forward and backward. Now he has to digest Logan’s scheme. Crane also needs to get ready. Ryan’s man of steel routine shouldn’t be taken for granted. He could go down at any minute. The next few weeks are also a chance for Crane to gain credibility with the new staff. If he performs well, he should become the heir apparent.

3. Adjust Special Teams. Special teams improved last year but many of the contributors (Ross, Sele and Anam) have moved on. They need to find new speedsters and implement any formation changes.

4. Find any hidden or forgotten talent. The nice thing about a mostly new staff is that many players get a fresh start. A.J. Brooks is one guy that everyone mentions but there are probably one or two other guys who might surface as real contributors who just never fit in under TOB.

5. Establish a culture. The guys have all talked to Jags. They’ve all heard different things. First impressions are over. However, this is the time when they’ll start to learn to communicate. They’ll learn how to read each other’s moods. If you asked BC fans biggest gripe with TOB, many would list flat performances. I don’t think lack of emotion will be a problem with Jags. These 15 practices are his time to start bonding with the team so that when he needs to fire them up or calm them down in November or December, he knows what buttons to push.

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