Spring Camp wrapped up nicely for us on Sunday. We had about an 80-play scrimmage in which all of our new recruits were able to take reps running our offense and defense in a full-go game day setting.
The drills that we do during camp like ‘A Drill’ and one-on-ones are ways for coaches to evaluate individual players on their position specific skills but that scrimmage provides our coaching staff the ability to measure certain intangibles in a player’s game. For some players, a scrimmage situation and the pressures to perform make them elevate their game and just compete.
Both of the new quarterbacks at camp, Jahlani (Gilbert-Knorren) and Josh (Huschi), did well and managed to break the pocket and make things happen by running or finding open receivers. Parker Siemens did a great job managing the offense and showed that he could step into the huddle, demand attention and make decisions with confidence and poise. I am proud of the guy because he is one of the quietest hard working players on the team and he definitely showed that he has improved and is ready to step into a bigger role on the team.
Dathan Thomas had a great weekend running the ball in the various drills and one-on-one periods. He had an amazing leap over Bryce McCall in ‘A Drill’ that affected the tempo of Saturday’s practices and elevated the spirit of the weekend to the level that it needed to be in order for us to make improvements in all areas. Then in the scrimmage he showed what we have been missing the past year with his hard nose running and ability to make guys miss. Again, his leadership on the field came across by how hard he played and is not a statistic that can be measured.
Zack Hart showed that he had just that, tremendous heart. He battled all weekend in the trenches and, on Sunday, had a great scrimmage breaking through the line to make tackles and a couple sacks.
Darren Hinds had a good weekend leading the o-line. As one of the only few fifth years on the team, and the only remaining player to actually play in our team’s last Vanier Cup appearance, he is a guy who knows what it’s like to be there. He is a tough guy and will protect his teammates when needed. He stepped up when one of our running backs was hit after the whistle on Saturday. We need that grit on the field and he certainly fills that role on this team.
Nico Higgs displayed great speed all weekend. He covered well as a linebacker but also made great tackles in the backfield and showed he isn’t scared to stick his nose into anyone on the field. He is a quiet guy on the field who gets the job done. His speed isn’t reckless, it’s controlled. People respect him as a linebacker even though he doesn’t weigh 220 because he is smart a can sneak up on anyone to make game saving tackles and big time plays. Once again, something that can’t be measured and that can have huge implications for how momentum shifts during a game.
There are so many more guys who had great camps. Our team came together once again and we all battled through the cold. Though the weather was a minor inconvenience, it still has the ability to dampen the mood of any practice. We battled through it and made strides forward last weekend. We have a long few months ahead of us until Fall Camp but we enter this part of the off-season with confidence and optimism in what is to come. See you all August 27 at our first game against the Western Mustangs. We’ll be ready, we only hope you are as jacked as us for another unforgettable season.
Stay poised and get, in the pocket.