Defense Shows Improvement in Fifth Spring Practice


 

 

March 22, 2013

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RUSTON, La. - Louisiana Tech’s mostly young and inexperienced defense, anchored by a veteran defensive line, began to show marked signs of improvement as the Bulldogs practiced for two hours in shells at Joe Aillet Stadium Friday afternoon.

The offense and defense battled back and forth in the pass skell periods with Kentrell Brice repeatedly knocking down passes and making plays. Brice leads a young secondary trying to improve on the 2012 season.

“You are talking about a lot of youth in that secondary and a lot of inexperience in that secondary,” said head coach Skip Holtz. “That is one place you don’t want to be young and you don’t want to be inexperienced. But the third thing you are looking for more than that is you don’t want to be not athletic. When you look at Kentrell Brice, [Bryson] Abraham and some of the other guys that are back there, we have a lot of athleticism in that secondary. They are just young and inexperienced.”

Brice seemed to thwart several potential good plays in pass skelly as he continues to develop in the secondary.

“He [Brice] is doing a really nice job and picking a lot up, throwing all the different coverages and the new terminology and everything else at him. Every rep that we can get in pass skell and everything else is just going to get us better … I think he [Brice] is doing a nice job of picking it up. He is one of the better athletes. He has played and has a little game experience so he is going to be relied on as one of the more experienced guys back there and he is just a sophomore right now. But he has a really bright future and I am excited he is home and it is nice to have that hometown product from Ruston right here at Louisiana Tech.”

The young secondary and linebackers will be forced to grow up quickly, leaning on a veteran defensive line to guide them.

“We have four seniors up front and there is no doubt that is the leadership of our defense right now,” Holtz said. “When you get out there and look at guys that have been here for a long time and have played a lot of football. I think they understand it, they have the commitment and they are setting the tone right now.”

“It is the same thing at linebacker [like the secondary],” continued Holtz. “We don’t have a lot of experience when you look at guys like [Mike] Schrang and Beau Fitte and ht etwo new junior college linebackers. Wiggins has a back spasm right now and his reps have been limited. But when you look at the inexperience at linebacker and in the secondary, we are definitely going to lean heavily on our defensive line and not just in what they do but rely on them for a leadership role. They are going to have to provide a lot of leadership. We may have to take the Tonka Trucks away from our linebackers and our secondary to get them to play [football] with our defensive line.”

The team has a short turnaround before hitting the field again as Tech will practice Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in what is expected to be a physical practice in full pads.

“The challenge is making sure we get enough food in them, we hydrate and we get enough sleep,” explained Holtz. “What you worry about more than anything with a quick turnaround is injury. That is why we held back a little bit today, because we will get pretty physical tomorrow. It will be a physical practice tomorrow with a lot of good against good, going against each other. The biggest thing I want to get out of this short break is rest and get some food back into them so they can have some energy for tomorrow’s practice.”

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QUOTES

Head Coach Skip Holtz

“We had a light workout today after going at it with the pads the last few days. I wanted to do something a little bit lighter today so we were just in shells. We got some work done but it was a lot of polish work more than anything else. We did about 10 minutes of inside, 10 minutes of skelly and about 20 minutes of team today.

“I like the way they are grasping everything. I know it gets old to talk about the attitude and the effort but without the attitude and the effort, what we are trying to do and trying to teach doesn’t matter. I like culture of this football team. I like their attitudes right now. It is starting to take some shape. I keep saying it is like a puzzle and we got another piece today. We are continually adding plays on offense and adding more on defense to give us a little bit more in our playbook and I like how they are picking it all up right now.”

On lack of red jerseys:

“For me, especially the quarterbacks, they have to learn to play the game live. When we get into scrimmages we will make them live in scrimmages. But I think you can ruin a quarterback if they just stand in the pocket thinking no one can get anywhere near them. It will be a little different in the game because you can’t wear a red [non-contact] jersey in a game, unless we are all wearing them. For our injured players, they go into the weight room for the first hour of practice and we call that the ‘Yellow Brick Road’ because they get to go up there and see the wizard. If we as a team are spending a day out on the field at practice and they have an injury that prevents them from participating, then they are going to go up to the weight room and get stuff done whether it is trying to increase their strength or even rehab something. I don’t like the injured players to stand out just by throwing a bright red jersey on them.”

On the injures:

“We have a number of injuries on this football team right now but a lot of them are carryovers. You look at guys like [Matt] Shepperd, [Vince] Cano, Tevin King, [Vontarrius] Dora had surgery on a torn muscle in his abdomen – we have a number of guys in that boat. But we have also had some bumps and bruises so far this spring. [Conner] Nichols is out with a strained Achilles but I would expect him to be back sometime soon. Cody Stidham might have had a concussion today and they held him out as a precautionary measure. Some bumps and bruises and we probably have eight to 10 missing practice right now. We say all the time that positions are earned on the football field and positions are earned every day. The next time we are on the football field we will have about 15 to 18 newcomers and they will have the opportunity to nail down a position and that is why it is important to be at practice every day.”

On Kentrell Brice:

“He is doing a really nice job and picking a lot up, throwing all the different coverages and the new terminology and everything else at him. You are talking about a lot of youth in that secondary and a lot of inexperience in that secondary. That is one place you don’t want to be young and you don’t want to be inexperienced. But the third thing you are looking for more than that is you don’t want to be not athletic. When you look at Kentrell Brice, [Bryson] Abraham and some of the other guys that are back there, we have a lot of athleticism in that secondary. They are just young and inexperienced. Every rep that we can get in pass skell and everything else is just going to get us better. I think he [Brice] is doing a nice job of picking it up. He is one of the better athletes. He has played and has a little game experience so he is going to be relied on as one of the more experienced guys back there and he is just a sophomore right now. But he has a really bright future and I am excited he is home and it is nice to have that hometown product from Ruston right here at Louisiana Tech.”

On the quick turnaround to Saturday’s practice:

“The challenge is making sure we get enough food in them, we hydrate and we get enough sleep. What you worry about more than anything with a quick turnaround is injury. That is why we held back a little bit today, because we will get pretty physical tomorrow. It will be a physical practice tomorrow with a lot of good against good, going against each other. The biggest thing I want to get out of this short break is rest and get some food back into them so they can have some energy for tomorrow’s practice.”

On the defensive line:

“We have four seniors up front and there is no doubt that is the leadership of our defense right now. When you get out there and look at guys that have been here for a long time and have played a lot of football. I think they understand it, they have the commitment and they are setting the tone right now.”

“It is the same thing at linebacker [like the secondary], we don’t have a lot of experience when you look at guys like [Mike] Schrang and Beau Fitte and ht etwo new junior college linebackers. Wiggins has a back spasm right now and his reps have been limited. But when you look at the inexperience at linebacker and in the secondary, we are definitely going to lean heavily on our defensive line and not just in what they do but rely on them for a leadership role. They are going to have to provide a lot of leadership. We may have to take the Tonka Trucks away from our linebackers and our secondary to get them to play [football] with our defensive line.”