Monday, 13 June 2016

Another Important Step...

One of the tougher tasks to accomplish during CFL Training Camp is getting a team’s energy level, and focus, back up to where it previously was after the 1st exhibition game of the year.  The first full practise usually takes place after the initial round of cuts have been made and if coaches and players aren’t careful, a team risks hitting the field and simply “going through the motions.”

“Going through the motions” is something that the 2016 Saskatchewan Roughriders cannot afford to do.  Considering the current make-up of the team and the amount of evaluations that still need to take place the Green and White needed to come out on Day 16 and re-establish its competitive sense of urgency.

It comes as no surprise that the coaching staff once again played a key role in setting the bar of expectations.  

Throughout Individual Drills and Special Teams periods, no players were afforded the chance to operate at a pedestrian level, and Chris Jones had a keen eye on everything making sure that there was no “brother-in-lawing” going on.

For those who don’t know what the term “brother-in-lawing” is, it is the act of doing a drill against another player where both guys make it look like they’re giving great effort when they’re really just fitting up and gearing down.  Usually on teams it's the established VETs that sneak in a couple of “brother-in-law” reps in, but again, this team can ill afford to have players, ESPECIALLY vets simply going through the motions trying to get through practise. 

There’s already going to be enough obstacles in the 2016 Roughriders journey this season, there’s no need for the Riders to create their own by negating their competitive foundation.

As we’ve all gone through camp doing write-ups of what each day’s been like, you’ll recall that there have been a few days during Training Camp where we’ve highlighted important turning points in Saskatchewan’s 2016 campaign.  

Today we can highlight another one…

The players really took ownership on Day 16.  As much as the coaches demanded focus and attitude, the players held each other accountable even more.  This morning nobody waited for the coaches to get guys lined up. Onlookers could hear the guys in uniform taking control of things like the administrative aspects of drills AND the tempo at which those drills were to be carried out.

It was nice to see players demanding the competitive level needed during this crucial phase of camp.  Things may be winding down here in Saskatoon but all that means is that the opportunities to make this football team are dwindling for some of these hopefuls.

With guys beginning to get more vocal and demanding the best out of each athlete on the field it shows that there are leaders slowly but surely emerging in this locker room.  At the very least it exemplifies that there are player’s in the locker room right now that are beginning to “get it.”  They understand what this competitive culture that is being installed is all about.  

Football is the ultimate team sport.  An organization can have all the individual talent in the world but if that talent isn’t operating with one goal and one mindset then it’ll be a looong year, and not in the good way.  

Now that the guys that are actually strapping on the helmets are starting to hold each other accountable this team can continue to grow.  Today was another crucial step in the right direction.  

Nobody was allowed to go through the motions, and it wasn’t just the coaches doing the preaching.

It was a short and quick practise today that included a Special Teams emphasis so there isn’t a whole lot that I jotted down.  Here it is anyway for your water cooler football conversations.  This 2nd Exhibition Game is going to go as quickly as it comes…THEN WE’LL BE ROLLING FOR REAL!!!

• One of the things that I Tweeted (@lucmull95) about during today’s practise was the fact that Doubles’ rep count was significantly higher than the other 3 QBs today.  With Durant expected to play significant minutes next Saturday one could call this a “teaser” of some sort.  During the game against BC many people were disappointed that Doubles didn’t play.  The frustration in Riderville surrounding #4 wasn’t from an evaluation standpoint either; fans just wanted to see THEIR GUY get out there and run around.  It’s funny how Ridernation’s view on the face of the franchise have changed.  I’m all for it, and this team needs #4 now more than ever. #TrustTheProcess


• Marcus Hall (#51) got a turn to work with the A Group during this morning’s paces.  I mentioned on Twitter that it was a great opportunity to give the youngster out of Ohio State a feel for the PACE and COMMUNICATION in that first group as there’s a significant difference between the A’s and B’s on any professional team.  We’ve talked about this in previous articles but it rings especially true for Hall after watching him today…Hall has to be coachable and do all the little things that are asked of all the Oline.  His position coach and his HC want to see him making effort all the way up to the whistle.  At times he had to be reminded to FINISH with the rest of the group during run plays down the field.  All teams, and all position groups, are different with their expectations of players.  Coaches also vary in personalities, so this observation is not an indictment on his character, it’s simply a reflection of what it takes IN SASKATCHEWAN during the 2016 season.  As far as technique goes, like any young offensive lineman, Hall is probably going to see spots in film where he would have made it easier on himself if he managed to get his hands punching inside an oncoming Dlinemanschest plate.  


• One of the downfalls about keeping yesterday’s Pro Perspective post focused on the Canadian Content is that there were certain guys that I wanted to talk about that didn’t fit the passport requirement!!!  One of the Defensive Ends that hadn’t been getting a ton of love during camp is former Missouri BASKETBALL player Tony Criswell.  This guy’s another athlete that Chris Jones has brought into Saskatchewan and like Jordan Reaves, actually more-so, he’s incredibly RAW.  I remember watching him in Florida and thinking that “this guy’s in tough to get invited back to main camp,” and to be honest, I was a bit surprised to see him here in Saskatoon.  #ThatsWhyImNotAGm! Criswell has VASTLY improved, and his athletic ability suits well to what Ed Phillion is teaching his DE’s.  It was only natural that I kept an eye on him during the BC Lion game and he played well for his first time out.  He probably would have had a couple of pressures (maybe even a sack) if the QB wasn’t given room to roll away from him during a couple of plays but he never stopped working which is commendable.  One has to remember that the biggest thing that guys like Criswell and Reaves have AGAINST them isn’t football toughness, it’s football IQ.  Criswell spend his reps on Saturday trying to apply the techniques that he’s been seeing for the first time and he pursued the ball with effort.  He’s got the speed, and he’s working on his moves.  Today he seemed to pick things up right where he left off on Saturday in applying his teachings and MAKING EFFORT to the ball.  Criswell, like all the DEs here, is in a deep competition for a spot on this squad, but I’ll tell you what; In Florida, he had ZERO chance.  Since then he’s come along nicely which shows good coaching, but more importantly great retention from a guy that is making a transition from Basketball to Football


• Now that he’s in his 2nd week of camp, the coaching staff is ensuring that Phillip Sims is getting more and more team reps.  I’m really interested to see how QB reps get doled out during the final exhibition game in Edmonton this Saturday.  If there’s one meeting room that I could be in this week, it would be the QB room hands down!  It seems like it’s literally going to come down to one or two reps in that competition.








1 comment:

  1. I would like to give a shoutout to Producer Sam.
    Thank you Producer Sam for restoring the electricity on Saturday!