By T. Scott Boatright
The Ruston Bearcats opened preseason football practice this week, and it’s so far, so good as far as RHS head coach Jerrod Baugh is concerned.
“We gave them a short break from summer workouts before we got started and I think that gave them a chance to catch their breath and refocus, and I think it’s been three pretty good days of practice,” Baugh said. “It’s kind of limited in what you can do in helmets only, but it’s a good opportunity for the kids to get back at it and get re-acclimated to the weather, so I think it’s been a really good start.”
The Bearcats will put on shells by adding shoulder pads on Monday-Wednesday before putting on full pads for the first time next Thursday.
Baugh said the Bearcats stand pretty good health-wise as preseason workouts begin.
“That’s always a big deal as to how far you can push early on all the way to the playoff season,” Baugh said. “As of right now I think we’re in good shape.”
The Bearcats will put it another day of practice today and will hold picture day on Friday morning.
“Then on Saturday we’re going to load up buses and bring them to various neighborhoods around town and sell Bearcat Cards and then we’re going to have a little swimming party and have lunch just to kind of give them a break and that kind of stuff before we move harder into practices next week.”
Baugh said Monday this week the Bearcats have probably done a little more than most teams do wearing helmets only.
“We do a lot of individual work and that kind of thing,” Baugh said. “But we also do some team drills and work on our outside running game and quick passing game, working with screens and that kind of stuff. We’re working on things out in space and trying to stay away from inside stuff without pads, so we’re focused on a lot of perimeter things right now.
“And we’re doing 7-on-7 drills just like we’ve done over the course of the summer and at the end of practice we do some conditioning things that involve football-related stuff, too.”
Baugh said Jaden Osborne and Joshua Brantley have split quarterback reps on a 50-50 basis.
“Jaden gets all the reps with the first group and Josh gets all the reps with the second group, but they’re split evenly,” Baugh said. “We’re getting the same number of reps with all the groups including the freshmen. We’re giving everybody an opportunity to get in there right now.
“One of the things we’re doing is working our two-minute offense against our defense. This is a really good time to work those situations, too, so we kind of alternated that this week.”
The Bearcats return a solid core group of starters, so that hasn’t left the opportunity for any newcomers to quickly step up and surprise.
“We do have some unanswered questions in several different areas, but that’s probably panning out the way we expected it,” Baugh said. “But we still have to iron out what positions some of our kids will land at. But I don’t think there’s been any surprises in these first few days.
“Because we have such a solid group of returning players with some experience is probably why there haven’t been any surprises. We have a good number of returning starters, and even if they didn’t start last year we have a good number of kids who picked up some valuable playing experience during games last year. That kind of puts them ahead of guys who don’t have as much experience, and eliminates a lot of chances for a player to come out of nowhere and surprise.”
But Baugh admits that could change.
“Once you put pads on and really get out there grinding, there’s always a surprise or two that comes up,” he said. “It’s always nice to see when that happens because it creates some competition in some spots, and competition is a good thing.”
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