Aug. 11, 2006
ATHENS, Ohio -While most people finish work on Friday and look forward to the weekend off, the Bobcat football team's reward for its first five-day work week is the start of two-a-days on Saturday.
The NCAA allows just one practice per day for the first five days in order to help the players adjust to their routines. This acclimatization period can be especially helpful for the newcomers making the jump from high school to college.
"The game speed has been the biggest adjustment," freshman linebacker Stafford Gatling, a native of Burlington, N.C. and a product of Cummings High School. "High school and college are two different games. The game is a whole lot faster. In high school, the defense wasn't as hard to learn as it is now. We have so many schemes we have to put in each day. It's a big adjustment to try and learn the defense and then play at a faster tempo."
Defensive Coordinator Jimmy Burrow
On what the team accomplished in its first five practices:
"We've put a lot of things in. We have a pretty experienced team so we were able to move forward fairly quickly in installation. It's been hot, which has been good, so we continue to condition them. We've had a good week so far."
On the amount of contact in practice:
"It's to the point these days with the low numbers, and every program has these issues, that there's not as much hitting as in the old days. We have to make sure we're getting enough physical contact, yet make sure that we have everybody on this team ready to go for the first game. There's some hitting, bit it's a lot more individual-type tackling situations and not as much full scrimmaging.
Freshman linebacker Stafford Gatling
On anticipating his first set of collegiate two-a-days:
"I know it's going to be hard, but if you want to be a good football team you have to work."
On how the veterans have helped him adjust to college football:
"They've been on my side, guiding and teaching me. That's one thing I like about this team. At some schools, the upperclassmen will put the lowerclassmen down, but they're really teaching me here."
Senior linebacker Tyler Russ
His assment of the first five practices:
"You can always get better, but as of this point, compared to last year, we're light years ahead which is an amazing feeling. We have to get better every day and keep working at it."
On the mindset during two-a-days:
"You work through it. You have to look at it as getting better twice a day instead of once. You can't dread it, otherwise you're going to practice badly. I think you just take it one practice at a time."
On contact in practice:
"There's a fine line with Coach Solich on when he wants to hit and when he doesn't. If you think about it, we want to play 14 games, and if you're hiting each other for four straight months then you're going to be banged up at the end. You have to be smart about it."