Dogs physical in Week One
By Greg Sullivan
After the first couple of days of practice last week, any novelty factor of playing football again in the spring should have been absent for the Morgan County players.
The fact that it wasn't the case is what has Bulldogs' Head Coach Bill Malone this year's team.
"We were real concerned that the newness would be worn off," said Malone. "All week long our guys have practiced with enthusiasm."
The players, particularly on defense, know what's on the line this spring with a few key holes to fill left by graduation from some of last year's team members.
"There's a lot of competition on that side of the ball for positions," Malone said. "Our kids are really battling each other for playing time.
Entering their second week of spring practice, Malone said his team has lots of positives to look back on from week one and the team is also starting to identify potential leaders and starters for the new edition of the Bulldogs.
"I've been really excited about Coach [Clint] Jenkins' defense and their intensity."
Malone said he also believes some players may be stepping up to fill key positions for his team.
Zach Sheppard is playing well at tight end, Malone said. Brandon Horton, Asie Tolbert and Clarence White rotating to fill the two defensive tackle spots also seems to be working, he said. Dexter Cooper has been playing well at the quick tackle spot on offense.
Returning full back Ryan Glosson, a rising senior, is far and away the leader in the offensive backfield, Malone said.
Also, he said he's been pleased thus far with the play of his quarterbacks. Rising junior Terence Harper, who had a big year last year in his first full season as a starter, appears to be even faster than a season ago.
Meanwhile, rising sophomore J.D. Hawkins looks good with his option reads and is throwing well, Malone said.
The team, though, still has its share of question marks, some of which Malone hope scan be answered by the conclusion of this week.
The team is still looking for someone to step up at quick-side guard on offense. On defense, the team is looking for a good strong-side defensive end. The team is considering moving veteran Phillip Stovall to linebacker and to do this they will have to fill his hole on the defensive line.
As for younger players stepping up to help out the team, A.J. Smith, a rising sophomore, has been playing well at defensive back and running back positions, Malone said.
The team currently has a handful of injuries, mostly of the minor variety. Josh Griffin was injured in practice last week and coaches hope to have him back soon--just not for the remainder of spring practice.
"He made great strides, garnering the attention of the defensive coaches," Malone said. "I'm thankful he's recovering well."
The hope is, according to Malone, that Griffin will be able to step back in and help the team this fall.
"We're still emphasizing safety in practice," Malone said, "making sure people tackle and run with their eyes up."
The team will continue to work on fundamentals as they make roster decisions this spring.
"Once we solidify that, I think we'll be able to pick up the pace a little bit," Malone said.