Yesterday we touched on how important it was for players to be mentally strong through the grind that is Day 3 and 4 during Training Camp. Even before this morning’s practise got underway I tweeted (@lucmull95) out how important it was for this team to attack the workout with a maintained intensity and focus. At this stage of the game the guys in the locker room are still working to develop their chemistry, and with it being this early, sometimes focus and intensity can be the first things to fly out the window, once things get physically draining.
Today was going to be a day where the true value of this championship COACHING STAFF was on full display; and from start to finish the Roughrider Coaches answered the bell for a team that is still in the process of having its locker room leaders continually declare themselves.
In order to keep the rabid pace of competition going through one of the tougher days of camp the coaches were going to have to set the tone VERY EARLY for the attitude required for the day and from the opening bell, led by Coach Jones, this staff did a great job of raising their own level of intensity to ensure that the players were either going to match it, or exceed it.
It’s easy to raise your effort level when (for example) one is an Olineman and the play is just finished but the position coach has just sprinted 40 yards downfield after the entire group demanding them to FINISH!
As a defender one tends to get a lil pep in their step when the entire defensive coaching staff is pointing and screaming, “GET TO THE BALL!” even though the play may be over with. Nobody wants to the last guy around the pile in that situation.
I felt that the entire coaching staff always had a fantastic sense of the team temperature throughout the day, and they never allowed things to slip to a point where they weren’t getting what they needed effort wise. Even the little things that some may not have noticed like transitioning from drill to drill were pronounced and confronted.
Attention to detail is the mark of any successful coaching staff, and this particular crew ensure that it’s a characteristic that they maintain. As competitive and intense as things got today coaches always made sure that the guys were getting the required amount of technical advice.
I’m sure players appreciated the balance that RB coach Craig Davoren preserved during physical 1v1 drills with the LBs. Davoren and Coach Phillip Lolley ensured that the units were getting after each other to the point where they could be evaluated, but also took the time to shore up the technical focus.
One aspect of today’s practises that facilitated ensuring that the focus and tempo was maintained came in the form of change.
The relentless pounding of two-a-days becomes monotonous if players aren’t kept on their toes, and invested in the process with different challenges. Coach Jones switched things up a little by incorporating different 1v1 formats during non-team periods and introduced a situational no-huddle drill where for the first time in 2016 there was only one defensive and offensive unit on the field at a time. It’s the simple concept of PLAYING football vs. WORKING football.
This was a fantastic way to continue to foster competitiveness but at the same time it also gave the players something new to zero in on. In turn the focus is there because it’s fresh.
Players responded well today, and as John Murphy alluded to during our Live-Streamed Show on Riderville.com with Dan Plaster, Days 3, 4, and 5 are usually where we see certain players separating themselves from the pack. If that is the case, then this coaching staff did group a huge favour by making surethat they were putting things on tape worthy enough of a fair evaluation.
There wasn’t one point in time today where Chris Jones didn’t emphasize mistakes or lack of tempo. He was especially hard on the defence even though they ended up winning the day on the scoreboard. Jones was far more vocal about missed assignments and opportunities than he was about sacks and turnovers and his demand for perfection regardless of the outcome of a single play is going to go a long way for this group. Especially when practise became stalled due to players not knowing when and where they needed to be on the field. This wasn’t something that was taken lightly because if it happens during the year, it is far more costly than during training camp.
As the 2016 Saskatchewan Roughriders continue to learn about each other and come together as a team, this coaching staff is going to have to do some of the heavy lifting during the early phases. Eventually the locker room is going to be able to support itself, however right now it’s a huge advantage to have a championship coaching staff that will be there to help build the foundation.
Making sure that the FOCUS and INTENSITY needed to have an efficient practise is present falls on everyone but it was sure nice to see the coaching staff willing to lead the way.
Day 4 is in the books.
As per usual in 2016 here’s some thoughts that I took down as I watched today’s proceedings unfold…