CONWAY - In its drive for a fifth Big South Championship on its fifth day of practice, the Coastal Carolina football team donned full gear for the first time this preseason for a 2-hour evening session. The team will then have its first two-a-day session Wednesday.
"The first day in full gear wasn't bad," said head coach David Bennett. "I'm not going to lie, the humidity is tough, but I don't know where in the nation it isn't so we cannot use that for an excuse. We had good effort and good energy. The offense did not do enough in the 7-on-7 skeleton drill, but turned the tables in the 11-on-11. If one side of the ball is getting the better of the other every day, we are in trouble. It is good to see them compete and have the defense shine some and offense shine too."
Tuesday's session started with individual drills and slowly the units got bigger and bigger until finally the team came together for some 11-on-11. Prior to the 11-on-11, in the 7-of-7 skeleton drill, the defense picked up where it left off last night, getting the upper hand. One of the highlights was an interception by freshman corner Rick Rivers. Toward the end of the 7-on-7, Matt Hazel caught a deep ball, which may have helped turn the momentum.
When the full team came together for 11-of-11 drills, quarterback Aramis Hillary hit freshman tight end Thomas Pauciello for a nice gain and found senior tight end David Duran for another. One of the final plays in the 11-on-11 drill saw quarterback Cody Craig drop in a deep ball down the sideline to complete a pass to Dushawn Davis.
The final drill Tuesday was the quintessential first day of full pads drill. It goes by many names, like the Oklahoma Drill, but the outcome is always the same ... excitement. The first part had three offensive linemen versus three defensive linemen with a quarterback handing a ball off to a running back. Simply, the offense had to move 10 yards in four plays. The defense stood strong on the first go around, but the offense found its stride and dominated.
The second drill, or Spider Drill, is a three-level drill with a quarterback handing a ball off to a back. At the line of scrimmage, there is a battle between an offensive and defensive lineman. Five-yards further, a tight end blocks a linebackers with a wideout blocking a defensive back five yards beyond that.
"The Spider Drill is a very realistic drill," Bennett said. "You can see who can play in the open field."
When asked to assess the first five practices, Coach Bennett said, "We feel like we are a little further along right now than we were last year at this time. Then again, we did not get off to a great start last year so we need to be further along."
Senior offensive tackle Bryan Brooks after practice #5:
"Camp fever is setting in a little and we are getting a little wear and tear on our bodies," said senior offensive tackle Brian Brooks. "I personally did not have my best practice today because of that but I am still trying to give my best effort. As a whole, we just have to keep turning it up and fighting through the heat.
"Those drills at the end, especially the 3-on-3, are more geared toward the offense," Brooks said. "The Spider Drill is good competition and is a good pride drill because it is just you against another man. It is all about beating that person in front of you and hoping the back makes a great cut to score."