By: R. Alan Richardson, Sports Editor
Football in the South is somewhat of a religion. It’s no different here as the Morgan County faithful are chomping at the bit for Friday night lights to finally roll around. What’s in store for the 2015 football season remains a mystery, but one thing’s for sure, the Bulldog fans will be there in full strength to support their beloved team on August 29th for the home opener. Official fall practice has started leading up to that date and the coaches seem pumped for the season opener.
Offensive Coordinator, John Robbins, gave us this glimpse into the upcoming season and early practices, “I’m impressed with the effort so far. We’ve been working so hard all summer that it’s somewhat of a letdown for the kids that we can’t be in full pads right now. This week has been a mandatory five days of conditioning without pads so we’re working on things we’ve been doing all summer. These guys are getting after it and hitting it hard. The team leaders have even been doing extra conditioning with the team on their own. We’re continuing to get better at all the different things we have in our offense and they’re looking forward to next Monday in full pads.” According to Robbins, the offense will be very similar to last year but may be a little more run oriented. They will rely more on the offensive line and some really good downhill runners at fullback that haven’t been seen in a couple of years. He still wants to spread defenses out while taking advantage of good receivers with a more balanced attack.
Allen Crowley echoed some of the same sentiments about the early practices, “The defense is also looking forward to Monday when we can get in full pads and apply things we’ve been working on all summer. It will give us our first opportunity to go full speed and be as aggressive as we can be.” Crowley hopes his squad will be ready for the pre-season scrimmage against Athens Christian on the 15th, “Right now we are working on alignment, recognition of sets, assignments, reads, and various schemes. It’s all about repetition and making sure that whatever thinking we do is pre-snap. We want to make sure we are lined up correctly based on the formation and instinctively react to keys and reads that we have. It’s all about where we need to be based on levels, angles, and recognition and playing fast. The spread offense we will see just about every week demands that we know our responsibilities so that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. I guess we can blame Oregon and Auburn for all this run-pass option stuff we’re seeing today.”
Head Coach Bill Malone was obviously impressed with the early enthusiasm of his team saying, “The mood right now is high with the temperatures being as high as they have been. Nobody has melted and the pace has been acceptable for this time of year. Practice has been productive so we’ve been able to leave every day with a good taste in our mouths.” Morgan opens up with one tough customer in Jones County who made the AAAAA state semi-finals a year ago and gave the Dogs fits in the opener. “We’ve got to be ready for that game against a mighty good team. They handled us pretty well,” said Malone. When asked if there were any surprises so far, he told us, “The biggest surprise is the numbers. We’ve got 93 kids out there right now, but only had 74 during summer workouts. This has been the best attendance we’ve had for those workouts in a while, but I wonder where those other 19 players were this summer. We had 52 players who attended 20 or more workouts and 63 that attended 15 or more.”
The head coach also observed, “Most of our lead players are seniors or underclassmen who played a lot for us last year so we have a ton of experience going into the season. The thing I’ve been most pleased with is the offensive line at this point because they’ve picked up on a lot of things in a short period of time. We’re not complicated but we don’t run the same blocking scheme every time. They’re doing a better than average job right now of making their calls and recognizing the defensive alignments. I’d also like to say that I’m blessed to have two wonderful coordinators in Coach Robbins and Crowley.
I wouldn’t call it delegation, but these guys are responsible for the offense and defense and I’m responsible if something gets broken. However, they don’t put broken products out there and that makes me feel really good about how things are going so far.”