On Monday, Coastal went in full gear during the morning and just “uppers” (helmets and shoulder pads) at night. The camp trend continued with the defense playing well in the morning, working on the running game, and the offense responding during the night practice.
The offense came away with two plays that really stood out. One, Aramis Hillary hit Adrian Sullivan in stride down the left sideline, despite tight coverage from Chris Carter. Later, running back Jeremy Height hit a seem up the middle for a big gain. The defense did make some plays in the 7-on-7 drills, including two interceptions by Josh Norman and one each from Tyler McCarthy and Andrae Jacobs.
“I thought there was good energy tonight,” said head coach David Bennett. “I do like there is competition. It is good to compete against one another while realizing they are one team and they have to keep pushing each other to make each other better. We are not getting ready to play each other. WE are getting ready to play a Furman program that is rich in history and you must have ultimate respect for.
“The rain and humidity Saturday showed us one thing for sure. We are not in the shape we need to be. You cannot simulate playing the in the heat and humidity, wearing full pads, in summer conditioning.”
Furman kicked off the second week of its football preseason Monday with an afternoon session, returning to the field following Saturday’s scrimmage in Paladin Stadium and an off day on Sunday, the Paladins’ first since reporting to camp on Aug. 4.
“We’re continuing to improve in most phases of the game, but we’re looking for more consistency, intensity, and toughness,” said head coach Bruce Fowler following Monday’s team dinner. “At this time of the year there’s a fine line between working on those three things and keeping people healthy, but we’re determined to try and get better every practice. That is our goal.”
“Right now we’re doing some things well. We’re making strides in running the football, which also helps us in defending the run. We’re also doing a better job of rushing the passer and in the red zone, both from an offensive and defensive standpoint, and we’re doing some nice things on special teams, snapping the football, placing it, and kicking and punting the ball with some consistency.”
One area Furman struggled with on Monday was ball security.
“We had done a good job until today of taking care of the football. I was disappointed with that,” added Fowler.
Last year Furman ranked an unimpressive seventh in the Southern Conference in rushing offense, averaging 151.1 yards per game. The Paladins’ leading rusher, Jerodis Williams, totaled only 389 yards. Williams, a junior, returns this year along with senior Tersoo Uhaa, who heads into the 2011 season with 28 career rushing touchdowns. The Paladin backfield should also get a boost from redshirt freshman running back Hank McCloud, who has impressed in the preseason.
The Paladins fared little better in defending the run in 2010, yielding a league worst 211.7 yards per game, and ranked last in the SoCon in sacks, registering only nine takedowns in 11 games.
Two starters are back on the Paladin defensive front, including All-SoCon defensive end Josh Lynn and tackle Colton Keig, both juniors. The line’s two new starters will come from a contingent of six experienced returnees, with sophomore end Shawn Boone looking to be leading the way after posting a couple of late season starts.
The Paladin kicking game should be a source of strength this year with the return of All-SoCon placekicker Ray Early (11-of-12 FGs in ‘10) and punter Chas Short, who averaged 38.3 yards per punt a year ago while helping the Paladins rank sixth in FCS in net punting.
Furman led the SoCon in turnover margin in 2010, losing only eight fumbles and suffering only 17 total turnovers on the campaign while totaling 26 turnovers by opponents.
The Paladins practice Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
South Carolina State, which enjoyed a day-and-a half from the practice field, resumed drills Monday evening with an approximately two-hour workout in shorts and shoulder pads.
The Bulldogs were returning to the field for the first time after Saturday morning’s scrimmage and a day off on Sunday. The time off led to a very lively and enthusiastic practice Monday, according to Bulldog head coach Buddy Pough.
“The time off appeared to have made a difference,” Pough said. “Our guys moved around pretty good and had a little more lift and life. But, that is what you expect after not practicing since Saturday morning when we had our first scrimmage.
“We are still working hard, teaching and trying to make sure everyone is getting their assignments down,” he continued. “We are close to figuring out just who can do what, which is very important at this stage of our preparation.”
Pough said he and his staff were close to establishing this fall’s depth chart, a task he anticipates will be completed by Sunday. This fall’s roster should also be available at that time.
The battle at quarterback continues to be close between Derrick Wiley and Richard Cue, according to Pough who also noted that several young players are making a bid to make the Bulldog traveling squad.
The Bulldogs will follow a similar schedule as Monday’s the next two days, with practice sessions beginning around 6:40 p.m. both Tuesday and Wednesday. The players will have Thursday off as that is the first day of classes. Friday’s schedule will be announced later.