When asked what the biggest thing he wanted to work on in camp was, head football coach Jody Sears emphasized two things: turnover margin and consistency. Now, with training camp winding down, Sears is hopeful the work transfers to the playing field.
“I have seen it, but that’s something that you are always striving for; you are always striving for perfection,” he said. “And hopefully one day you will be good enough to get yourself in the fourth quarter and win some. That’s something we will continue to strive for.”
Sears began team preparations for the upcoming season earlier than usual.
“We had a good summer,” he said. “With conditioning and practice, I think one thing that you will see that I have seen is that we’re stronger. That’s been the main focus since last January. Physically we had to get stronger, and I think you will be able to see that. To what degree? We will really find that out next Saturday.”
Along with physical preparation, Sears took team leaders to Eden to complete a ropes course. His focus was on team building and leadership.
“It was honestly one of the most life-changing things I’ve ever done,” said senior linebacker Anthony Morales, one of the leaders of the defense. “We learned stuff about each other that we had no idea, which is big. You get guys to trust each other, understand each other, their lives on the field as well as off the field. It kind of brings a bond together that you’ve got that guys back. You know more about him.”
Sears saw that the team was in a lot of games late, but that the players didn’t have the strength and determination to finish the game. He attributed that to physical and mental toughness, which was another emphasis of the ropes course.
“These courses, I’m like, ‘I’ll do a little bit of that, but I don’t think I’m going to finish,'” Morales said. “We had 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound lineman climbing posts, doing things that I never thought was possible. It was cool; everyone finished everything at that course. I think that was a big point to put to our season.”
Along with building leadership, the team is learning a faster-paced offense under new offensive coordinator Robin Pflugrad.
“It was a huge transition to having Pflugrad come in, because he is so smart and he has been to some big schools and he’s done some big things,” said quarterback Jordan Adamczyk. “He really knows what he’s talking about and the offense makes complete sense. It is unreal how fast the guys picked it up and how everyone bought in. I think that was the biggest thing. Everyone bought into Coach Pflugrad’s playbook and what he does. I’m excited, that’s all I have got to say . . . because it works and it’s fast-paced and I think it’s going to be tough for defenses to stop.”
Although the offense is complicated, players said it was an easy transition.
“We’ve been working hard,” said wide receiver Eric Walker. “The team has been getting a lot better the last few weeks, picking up the offense. We have a lot of young guys that are new in the system. They have been doing a good job picking it up and learning their plays.”
With all of the additions and new programs, players said they feel confident about where they are in their preparation. It is now about taking that preparation and applying it in a game situation.
“That means it’s going to give you a chance and that it better show up next Saturday,” Sears said. “That’s the next thing. We got to make sure that we are taking care of business and that we are consistent next Saturday, because that’s the next test.”