Thursday, 2 June 2016

Keep Pushin That Rock

As our Pro Perspective Day 4 focus shifted to the Saskatchewan Roughriders coaching staff and their ability to provide leadership through some of the tougher spots in a professional training camp; we’ll piggy back off of that idea into what was a very effective Day 5 formula.




As a player, this is about as tough as it gets on the body physically and as much as one doesn’t want to hear any moaning and griping, throwing the pads on was probably the last thing some of these 2016 hopefuls wanted to do.  


This is one of those days where one wakes up and does a lot of double checking as to whether or not the practise schedule has changed at all.  

If it’s not posted in the locker room, one will definitely consult the equipment guys in hopes that they’ll hear provide those 4 magical words, “We’re in helmets today.”


Player: “Hey Gordieare you SURE we’re in pads today???

Gordie (responding to the question for the umpteenth time): “Yes”

Player: *Looks around to make sure everyone else is putting on their shoulder pads...Silently drops his head and curses. #NoMas


Now don’t get me wrong, just because one may feel like it sucks to be in pads again as they draw closer to the Green and White game, the news does not result in sulking.  One processes it, gets their mind right, and straps em up. 

This is what you signed up for.  #ChosenFew


As the players hit the field, one got the sense that guys were really fighting to push through.  Hell, even the coaches are starting to fight it, the investment the positional coaches are making is casuing a few of them to lose their voices.  There’s also been a significantly increased amount of stretching while the players are going through warm-ups.


This was going to be another day where the right administrative decisions were going to have to be made in order to get what was needed out of the day.  


The coaches clearly recognized that they were going to have to look out for their players’ physical well-being; however once again they (the coaches) also needed to ensure the players were still competing- especially after the mental lapses and corrections needed from the day before...Despite the physical toll being taken, players still have to come out, compete, and apply what they’re being taught in the meeting room.  

The goal never changes. #ImproveEveryRep


Today’s practise plan consisted primarily of TEAM periods that involved situational football downs mixed with systematic Special Team call-outs periods.  Basically the team went through a pseudo mock-game situation.  One may refer to it as a dumbed-down version of Saturdays Green and White game.


The intentions were effective.  The workout still provided the needed competitive aspect (because it was O vs. D, score or get stopped) but it also took care of the players’ bodies by significantly cutting down the pace and the rep count of the previous days.  Being that every series was situational, Special Teams was a huge part of the day which provided the need to heighten ones awareness and focus on the sidelines because Jones and Dickenson were calling out various units and utilizing their depth charts.


Jones also incorporated a Red Zone Competition for the first time in camp which gave onlookers an early glimpse at some of the basic red zone schemes that this team will look to execute during the season.  This was a great way to conclude practise!


As a former defender, any time a coach puts ones back against the wall, one can’t help but get fired up.  That’s one situation defences LIVE FOR...backs against the wall, defending the goal line.  I noticed I typed that sentence faster just thinking about it.


After 6 cracks from the 20 yard line, the O managed to score twice, but the simply changing things up again worked wonders for the tempo of players.


It was clear that the Day 5 emphasis was on FOCUS and EXECUTION.  Once again the coaching staff found ways to get the team locked in, but more importantly, not thinking about how physically beat up some of these guys are.  

Was it perfect?  No. 

There was still some significant time spent waiting on guys to realize that they were being called on during specific situations, and it took a while to get the whole team going at the tempo that the coaches wanted but as John Murphy alluded to during his appearance on The Sportscage (620 CKRM) yesterday, there’s only so much that the staff can do for players.  

Eventually coaches just stop calling your name, and that usually means that ones time and opportunity is not far from being done.

At the end of the day, the players managed to push the rock to the top of the hill, metaphorically speaking, and put some good things on tape.

As the Green and White’s 2016 Training Camp heads into a crucial evaluation opportunity on Saturday, players will now start focusing on their playbooks and getting their bodies right in order to be able to get the most of the reps they get this weekend.

Here are some other thoughts and notes that you may find interesting or valuable for your water cooler convos!  I’ll see ya’ll tomorrow.

• The NBA Finals starts today!  Why is that worthy of noting?  Well one of the best ways that players get to know each other and form real relationships is during the NBA playoffs.  While the guys are in the dorm rooms, TV areas become viewing parties for guys who don’t have wheels to get off site.  The areas become like watering holes on the African Savannah.  Players get together, talk sh*t about any topic that comes up, and form bonds.  One of the more pressing issues for this team is BUILDING CHEMISTRY.  The NBA Finals has always been a popular catalyst for coming together as a group.  #TEAM


• Been getting a ton of questions about the DBs.  One guy that is really starting to show well is #31 Justin Cox.  The thing that sticks out to me is his ability to sticks his back foot in the ground and break on the ball.  Doesn’t matter whether it’s man or zone.  He’s been breaking up passes the last couple of days at a consistent rate, and today he almost converted a pick 6 by showing an incredible burst to the ball on what would generally be considered an open receiver.  This D is getting aggressive, and the ball is going to be coming out of the QBs hands quickly.  We all know how crucial turnovers are in football and guys like Cox seem to be fighting to contribute.  To make my case, the defense converted a pick 6 today, but realistically had about 3 or 4 other opportunities to capitalize.  As the days go on and the back-end continue to get comfortable with their assignments and responsibilities, they’re going to start converting.  #Trouble

• Marte Sears is also someone that you guys should be looking out for during camp.  Again, another guy out of the Florida mini-camp but he’s up there with Jordan Reaves in terms of athletic ability.  #38 has been playing linebacker and DB and has been the one guy consistently around loose balls, errant passes and QBs from the onset of camp.  Sears is another big athlete at 6’5 220.  Troy Adams is also a new face that you guys should check out!


• This Offensive Line keeps getting better.  During some of the offensive series the QBs enjoyed a significant amount of time to go through their progressions, especially in the 1stunit with #4.  Mission Number 1 during the 2016 regular season:  Keep #4 upright.  It’s starting to come along. #Hoglife


• As much as I appreciate the QB protection today, it underscored the fact that one of the key positions to watch during Saturdays scrimmage and the exhibition games is the interior defensive line spots.  I’ve spent a lot of time watching Shawn Lemon and he’s been money when he looks to rush the passer, especially today.  The one thing that makes Lemon so tough to deal with as an Offensive Tackle is his speed and ability to bend the corner.  Today Lemon had success beating the Tackles, however the QB was allowed to step up consistently into the pocket because the Guards and Centres were doing such a good job pass pro’ing against the DTs.  With the loss of T. George and really the absence of any other returning experience on the interior, the opportunity to step in those spots as a pocket pushing Defensive Tackle is now.  Lemon and the rest of the Defensive Ends will benefit greatly when the QBs aren’t afforded the chance to step up into the pocket.  The last couple of seasons have been fruitful so I’m excited to see who takes a hold of those spots in the coming weeks!








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