COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Following two days in shorts and helmets, the Tennessee Tech football team was decked out in full pads Friday for the first time during the team’s spring drills.
“It’s always a little different when you put the
pads on,” said head coach Watson Brown. “The guys are
able to get physical but they still need to do what they’re
supposed to do. They need to be spirited yet poised.”
Tra’Darius Goff, a rising junior linebacker from Columbia, Tenn., who led the team with 101 total tackles in 2012, said every player on the roster looked forward to Friday’s practice.
“It was the first day we had the pads on since the final game of last season, and the offensive guys and defensive guys have been doing a lot of back-and-forth talking the past couple days. We all wanted to get out there and get physical.”
After the two-hour session, Goff said the team’s off-season conditioning and workouts were evident.
“It felt good to get out there and show how hard we’ve been working and how much stronger we’ve gotten,” he said. “For the first day in pads, I think we did a good job.”
He also insists that the defense had the better performance Friday.
“The defense had a better day today, “ he said. “We had five take-aways, two or three sacks, and two or three tackles in the backfield.”
On the other side of scrimmage, rising senior James Normand said the offensive line is undergoing some changes. A rising senior from Oak Ridge, Tenn., Normand has moved from tackle to left guard.
“We’ve made a few changes, and we’re hoping we can be more physical,” Normand said. “We talked about getting out here and knocking guys off the ball.”
Joining Normand up front, the Golden Eagles line will include Randall Reeves at center and Wesley Sherrill at right guard.
“We have our experienced, older guys inside and a bunch of younger guys competing for the outside positions,” Normand said.
That group includes Matt Martin, Brett Dillard, William Chatmon and Cory Malone. On the inside, Justin Ivory, Dylan Sullivan and Matthew Smith will be pushing the veterans for playing time.
The offensive linemen are working under the direction of new assistant coach Dewayne Alexander. While it’s his first season on the staff, Alexander played and coached at Tech earlier in his career. Normand said the players are responding well to the staff change and Alexander’s coaching style.
“He’s a coach who has been there, he’s coached in different programs and he has coached this position,” Normand said. “He gives all of us a clean slate coming into the spring and we all have an equal chance to earn playing time. He let’s us know exactly what to expect, and what to demand from his players.”
The team will wrap up the first week of practices on Saturday with a 1 p.m. workout. Next week the team will be on the field at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and hold its first scrimmage on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The team will hold its annual Purple/Gold Spring Scrimmage on Saturday, April 20. Admission is free. That action will be streamed live by the Golden Eagle Sports Network and available for free on the OVC Digital Network.