CAASports.com plans to follow the 2007 spring action which leads up the to the inaugural CAA Football season. Various student-athletes will be contributing to the CAASports.com Football Blog throughout the spring season. Log on each Wednesday beginning March 28 to get a behind-the-scenes look at what CAA Football student-athletes are doing leading up to and during their spring practice seasons.
Mark Stolte - Rhode Island
Hello everyone, hope you all had a great Easter.
I just finished looking at the CAA website and saw that a few teams have already had their spring football games. The one thing that shocked me a little bit was that Northeastern had already played their spring game - it has been pretty cold up here in the northeast in the last month!
Currently we are about six practices into spring football and things have been going great so far. This spring has really given the offense a chance to try out some new modifications to the option which have proven to be a challenge. Overall, with a little patience, I think it's going to be a great opportunity for us to add some depth to our play calling abilities.
I am not really sure what changes have been made on the defensive side of the ball right now but things seem to be going well over there. I hope to get some updates from our team MVP last season, senior cornerback Raji El-Amin, for my blog next week.
Right now, we are really looking forward to our first scrimmage which is scheduled for this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Although this will be our first official scrimmage, we have been having some short ones during most of our practices. Like I have said before, we were planning on getting a lot of contact during the spring, and so far that has definitely been the case. Hopefully all of the hard work will pay off and raise the level of our overall toughness as a team.
The intensity of our practices has been very high and all of the players are constantly on edge which has made practice very competitive. It is funny to be talking with your buddies in the locker room before practice and then, once you hit the field, they become enemies. I can honestly say that every year of spring practice there has been a big rivalry between the offense and the defense. You can see it in every drill and every scrimmage, and I can tell that the coaches are advocates of it because it creates great competition. If the offense comes out one day and gets beat by the defense, you can bet that the next day they will be gunning for them and vice versa.
I will get back to you next week as we see more action after our first full-out scrimmage. As the rivalry between offense and defense continues, I will fill you in on who comes out on top this Saturday.
Mark Stolte #57
John Wormuth - Maine
Having strong leaders is a vital aspect of a team and a role that I take very seriously. The player that helped me the most coming into college was Jermaine Walker (Class of '06). Coming in my freshman year he was pretty intimidating (haha), but he proved to be the kind of football player and person I wanted to be.
It seemed like he knew everything there was to know about playing linebacker in college, which proved to be drastically different than high school where you can just run around and make plays. Jermaine helped me out a lot my freshman year and even now when we talk football he always seems to have something insightful to say to me. He provided our team great leadership the two years I played with him. My sophomore season playing along side of him was a great experience for me. He was a presence on the field to say the least, and in meetings he was a great teacher by explaining everything to me. He was a great captain for our team because he did not just lead and help me out, he also did it for our whole team. He pushed the defense to be our best as well and challenging the offense everyday in practice.
The player I related to best when I first got here was Justin Knox. Justin was a lot like me and having him to talk to and share things with really helped my transition into college football. We lived together for my first two camps and on the road for two years, and we got to be great friends. Another player I looked up to a lot my first year was Brandon McGowan, who is currently on the Chicago Bears roster. He provided leadership through his talents on the field, and he was always there to make a big play to change the game.
The players from this past year's class that were great people and leaders that will be missed on the field and the locker room are Daren Stone, Mike Devito, Matt King, and Ron Whitcomb. These four guys made big time names for themselves, but what people did not see was their leadership off the field. They were always doing the right things and looking out for younger guys, always there to help out with anything. I learned a lot from these guys, not only Daren's relentlessness to make plays on the field, Matt's off the edge pressure, Mike's pure domination on potential blockers, and Ron's readiness for each game, but they showed me what a true leader has and that is respect of their team. When one of those guys talked, from Jermaine to Ron, people listened. That's what I want our team to think of about me.
When I break down our team after a lift or practice I want them to really listen and take what I have to say to them, just like I used to listen to the guys I mentioned. I try to be the best leader I can be, as I always offer my insight on defensive schemes to the rest of the linebackers and defense for that matter. I spend a lot of time learning what the corners, safties and D-line is doing so if a younger coner for example has a question on a coverage I can help him out, or I'll always be questioning them making sure they push themselves in whatever it is we were doing, from running to notes in meetings.
Jason Hatchell - Massachusetts
Spring football just started last Saturday. We have not got too much done so far this spring because we are still are practicing with helmets only—today was our second one. While it has been more in depth than what we had been doing in previous practices, it’s still not as fun as equipment practices when we get to run around and hit each other.
In the couple of practices so far, we have put some new plays in; it’s a great feeling to see everyone out on the field, running around as a team and getting into the swing of things. Everyone is getting into the mood. I think Friday will be the first day we get to put the pads on. It will be our first day with hitting—I can’t wait.
So far March and April have been very cold. Usually we expect something warmer from spring. It has been real cold; I want something warmer than this. 40 degrees does not feel too good when you hit somebody. I know the rest of the country is also practicing and I’m hoping they will send us some nice warm heat; the whole team is. It will help us to get the atmosphere right for all the practices.
Easter was Sunday, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough days off for me to get home. We had classes on Friday, and started practicing on Saturday. Classes started again on Monday and we had meetings and workouts that I couldn’t miss. I would have liked to go home, but it wouldn’t have worked. I went to a friend’s house in Boston. It was good a time and I had a very nice dinner.
Spring ball means only about four to five weeks until finals and school ends for the summer, I am excited to be finishing up my degree. I am still coming back in the fall, but I am very excited to wrap things up for my Sport Management major. I’m coming back in the fall, but now I will be able to concentrate mainly on football.
Nothing too much has happened this week, we only had a couple of practices and we really jump into the real practices this week. I will have a lot more to write about next week and will be able to give a report on this first real week of spring practices.
Ricky Santos - New Hampshire
Spring ball has been frustrating for me so far. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to be a Wildcat fan. We were hit with a snow storm that left nearly a foot of snow on the ground last Wednesday. The cold weather didn’t allow for the snow to melt either. As our luck would have it, the snow plow broke down with only a quarter of the field being plowed. We had practices scheduled for last Wed, Fri, and Sat and all were postponed. Looking at the weather forecast for this week, we are supposed to get another big storm on Thursday. The biggest thing for us right now is to keep focused on the task at hand. Whenever the weather decides to let up, we must take advantage of every opportunity we get this spring.
We did have our first practice on Monday. It was cold and blustery, but we were able to be productive in our first day out there. We practiced in just helmets and sweats, but coach Mac was as intense as ever. He’s fired up to get going this spring. The big emphasis during sweats practices is running to the football. During all team drills every coach gets on their players to finish to the ball until Coach McDonnell blows the whistle. Even our defensive linemen must turn and chase the ball carriers downfield until the play is over. These practices are great for teaching us how to play at a fast pace and with tempo. I really believe this is the reason for our success over the last couple years. The “Wildcat Way” is to give maximum effort for as long and as hard as you possibly can. Coach Mac structures practice to be physically demanding. He does this so when we get to a game situation, it is actually easier than what we have been doing all week.
We have only had one practice so far, so I have limited info on which players have made an impact so far. However I feel that our offensive line is working very well together right now. With all the film work with Coach Sean Devine in the off-season, I believe this unit should be very solid for us in the spring. We have four out of five guys returning and they can only get better with practice. Nick Couturier is the only senior up front. He has been a great leader thus far, and is the type of player that the young guys can try and emulate. He brings toughness to the line and comes to work every time he steps on the field.
Hopefully the bad weather will hold off so we can continue to progress as a team.
Derek Cox - William & Mary
I hope everyone had a happy Easter because I’m sure you’re all back on the grind. I did end up going home for the weekend and I loved it, as they say “there ain’t no place like home.” My taste buds and stomach appreciated the quality of momma’s cooking as opposed to the cafeteria. I brought a couple of plates back up to the burg [Williamsburg, VA] and it’s time to kick off the second half of spring ball.
Last week I noted that we would be scrimmaging that Wednesday. I’ll just say that the D did a lot of talking with our pads. I’m sure a lot of y’all play Madden, the “hit stick” was in full effect. A lot of young guys displayed their talent and demonstrated great potential. [Safety] David Caldwell, a true freshman, received the defensive player of the scrimmage honor. He had a good amount of tackles and intercepted a pass, returning it 40 yards. As a unit the defense performed well but still has a tremendous amount of room for improvement. A big problem with having success is you can tend to get complacent. [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Bob] Shoop is on top of this and he emphasizes our need to continue getting better. He immediately picked up on our overly confident attitudes developed from our strong showing. He has been on us and hasn’t allowed our success to go to our head.
I’m not taking anything away from our offense, because they showed up. The offense had a great performance by redshirt freshman, [quarterback] RJ Archer. He threw a couple of touchdown passes, connecting with freshman, [wide receiver] Cameron Dohse, for some big plays. The running game didn’t really prosper but the backfield can’t be taken lightly.
Monday marked the end of practice eight, leaving us with 7 more sessions. Being that it was the first workout after the break, we were a little rough. But, it feels good to be back in the swing of things, I missed the boys during our break. Our focus adjusted somewhat for the worst but I think the squad will be on track next practice. We need to have one good practice seven more times. Our next scrimmage will be this Saturday and this will be the last one before the Spring Game. Figuratively, we ate good last Wednesday but literally the defense is starving for this Saturday. Next week I’ll let y’all know how the scrimmage unfolds and any other important information.
Embarrassing Moment at Practice
Tim Hightower - Richmond
Spring football has come to an end here at the University of Richmond. Last Saturday the white team, which consisted of the first defense and the second offense, competed against the blue team. Both sides had their highs and lows as the competition went back and forth. The scrimmage setup was a great example of teamwork, as it was no longer offense against defense, but blue against white. As the second defense took the field, the first offense were their biggest fans as we encouraged them to strip, pull, intercept and do whatever they could to get the ball back for us.
The see-saw contest finally came to an end as white team quarterback Will Healy scrambled out of the pocket with less than a minute on the game clock and found freshman Jonathan Mayfield in the back of the end zone to win the game. The game was a great indication of where the Spiders were as a team. Even with the arrival of the new coaching staff members, we didn’t miss a beat. The new staff has adjusted quickly and has challenged us every day. Though there are areas of improvement, overall many of us left spring ball with great optimism.
Through powerful speeches on team unity, along with constant reminders to have fun and seize every moment, the Richmond Spiders’ family continues to grow as a team.
Before the spring game, the coaching staff announced me and my teammate, senior safety Stephen Howell, as the 2007 captains. We are both honored and grateful to be placed in this position. It speaks volumes of the respect that our teammates have for the both of us and their confidence in us to be great leaders. It was good to see the support from the rest of our senior teammates as well. We are both excited to lead our team and our committed to setting a standard of excellence.
Now that spring ball is over, we head back to the weight room four times a week with some speed work and conditioning during the week, along with a lot of film study. Some of us will also head to the track for a little extra speed development. As the semester comes to an end, the Richmond Spiders are buckling down in the classroom and turning the intensity up in the weight room, as we prepare our minds and bodies to be the best student-athletes we can be. Keep up the hard work Spiders.