Strong work by a couple of defensive backs and an emerging battle for the squad’s punting duties highlighted Furman’s Wednesday morning football practice session at the Bob King Practice Complex.
“I was extremely pleased with our defensive effort, particularly the play of Ryan Steed and Max Lerner,” said head coach Bobby Lamb following the two-hour, 25-minute practice in shorts and helmets. “Ryan had an interception and three pass deflections, and Max had a great day, showing agressiveness and breaking on the ball.”
Steed, a junior All-Southern Conference cornerback and team co-captain, is coming off a 2009 season that saw him register 59 tackles and a team leading four interceptions, one of which he returned 44 yards for a touchdown to key Furman’s 30-22 win over Georgia Southern. Lerner, meanwhile, totaled 60 tackles a year ago from his rover position, and had two pickoffs, including a 43-yard return for a score in a 38-20 triumph over Chattanooga. He was a consensus All-SoCon choice in 2008.
Lamb also complimented the play of junior linebacker Rick Furman, who “had a good day defending the pass.” The Greenville native tallied 23 tackles in a backup role a year ago.
Defensive improvement is one of the Paladins’ top goals for 2010 as last year Furman was torched by the opposition for 31.4 points and 431.3 yards per game.
On the other side of the ball three players earning mention on Wednesday included receivers Tyler Maples, Gary Robinson, and Daniel McFadden.
“Tyler and Gary both looked sharp and had touchdown catches, and I thought Daniel McFadden played well.”
Maples, who joined the Furman program last summer following two seasons at Tennessee, caught 18 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown in his first season as a Paladin.
Wednesdays practice included more 7-on-7 drills and a team period at the end that featured 11-on-11 work. In addition the Paladins inserted another series of offensive and defensive plays and sets.
Furman also worked on their “pride” team, otherwise known as the punt team, and according to Lamb a battle appears to be brewing between junior Chas Short and true freshman Ray Early for the squad’s punting duties vacated by the graduation of Trent Hawk (39.8 avg. in ‘09).
Short is a two-year letterman but has only handled the team’s kickoff chores. Early, whose great uncle, Lee Rhame ‘37 was an outstanding running back for Furman and charter inductee into Furman’s Athletic Hall of Fame, is a true freshman from Darlington.
“Chas and Ray have looked pretty good. The ball makes a different sound coming off Ray’s foot. There’s definitely a lot of potential there.”
The Paladins will practice in shorts, shoulder pads, and helmets at 8:45 a.m. Thursday.