Falcons added pads in week three of spring practice
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
For the third straight week the Darlington Falcons football took the field for spring practice and for the first time this spring the team has been in shoulder pads.
Over the first two weeks of spring practice, new head coach John Jones has had his team in just helmets, t-shirts and shorts. Now those t-shirts have shoulder pads underneath and Jones reasoning for taking this long to go pads is simple. He felt that his team learning was more important than hitting.
“We scaled back on the amount of hitting we are going to do in the spring,” Jones said on waiting so long for the shoulder pads. “We felt like there is a lot more teaching and stuff we got to get taken care of before we worry about a bunch of hitting. So we will take care of all of the hitting next week.”
That extra amount of teaching by Jones and his coaching staff appears to be paying dividends for the Falcons as players seem to be moving faster and understanding when and where they should be whether that person is on offense, defense or special teams.
“I think they are getting a little bit more of an understanding of what we are trying to do offensively, defensively and special teams wise,” Jones said, recapping where he thinks the team has made strides at. “Started to pick it up a little bit, some of the things we do, we’ve played a little bit faster in terms of flying around, guys getting where they’re supposed to get and that’s huge. Once they get a grasp of it we want them to be able to fly around defensively and play smart, move fast on offense and do the right things.”
Outside of understanding the new concepts and schemes that Jones has brought with him from Sumter, he wants his team to learn this spring that one of the most important things they do is “stay the course”.
“What they (the players) got to understand and we got to understand as coaches, is that we got to stay the course,” Jones said on what can not only make the spring successful, but make the season successful. “It is a long time between now and August and the first football game. We got to stay the course and find a way to get better every week.”
While that may be a difficult task, the overall great attendance of every player at the spring practices is really helping the transition. There may not be as many players still coming out now as there was in week one or week two, but the numbers are pretty comparable.
“It’s trickled down just a little bit,” Jones said on the attendance of spring practice. “We got some guys out; we got a little bug running around. We got some guys out sick right now, but the numbers have been pretty consistent from the second week to the third week.”
Darlington concludes its spring practice at the end of this week and according to Jones there will be no spring game where the team was split up and play each other in a real game setting. Instead the Falcons are going to practice like it was any other week and mix in some scrimmages.
“Next week is our last week,” Jones said at the end of the last practice during week three of spring practice, referring to the team’s plan for this week. “We will scrimmage with each other, but we are not doing a spring game, we are just practicing.”
Hopefully the scrimmages this week will give us a clearer view of what the team might be like during the 2015 season.