VALDOSTA –– Four days away from its scrimmage against Glynn Academy, the Valdosta Wildcats football team hasn’t quite found its groove.
After lively morning practices the past two outings, the ‘Cats have struggled to muster the same juice for the afternoon.
According to head coach Alan Rodemaker, the problem is finding the level of consistency in terms of attitude and focus to be great every time out. Following Monday’s practice, Rodemaker issued a challenge to his team.
“I want to see about 90 guys that want to be great,” Rodemaker said. “I’m talking about great everyday. I want to see 90 guys that are getting after it every day –– I don’t care if it’s the first practice of the day, second practice of the day, a walkthrough, I don’t care if it’s a film study. I want to see 90 guys that want to be great and we don’t have that right now. We’ve got guys that want to be great every now and then –– it’s a part-time thing. What I want is 90 guys that want to be great full-time.
“I just don’t see it every practice. We had a good practice this morning, afternoon wasn’t so good. Last Thursday we had a practice in the morning, afternoon wasn’t so good. Maybe it’s us when we go in shorts. We’ve been in shorts all summer. We just didn’t handle today as well as I wanted to. I don’t feel ready –– I know it’s early and we’re gonna make a lot of mistakes, but I just want to see guys that want to be great.”
Toward the end of Monday’s practice, offensive coordinator Josh Crawford lit into the offensive unit for lackadaisical play and lack of intensity. Crawford barked at the group, imploring them to play with more urgency with a trip to Glynn Academy looming on Friday.
Rodemaker admits to feeling some anxiety and frustration ahead of Friday’s scrimmage, citing a lack of practice time in full pads.
“There’s a little game planning in there but it’s not like a normal week,” Rodemaker explained. “It’s more of, hey this is base of what we’re going to do. We tweak it a little bit for who we’re playing because we have to. I want our kids to be successful, but do we go into all the song and dance that we would during the regular season or a region game? Not at this time. We’ve got too much other stuff to work on. You know, it used to be, when you started practicing in August, you’d get about 30 practices in before your first game because you had two-a-days, three-a-days. Now, it ain’t that way.
“We’ve been in pads about a grand total of three days [laughs]. Now we’re preparing for an opponent and getting scout teams together. We need a whole lot more good versus good and we’ll try to get back to that next week because we play Jackson after this. I just don’t feel ready and that’s with good reason since we’ve only hit for three days in full pads. That’s part of my anxiety or frustration, I guess.”
The ‘Cats worked various scenarios in which the first, second and third-team offense and defense got reps against the scout team units.
Rodemaker called for more fire and physicality from his scout team, admonishing scout team players that chose to pout rather than use the opportunity to get better and get noticed. With only 18 days remaining before the regular season opener against Jackson, finding ways to mask shallow offensive depth is a significant concern for Rodemaker and his staff.
Without the advantage of being two-deep at some positions, Rodemaker wants to see the starters step up and sharpen their focus as the preseason winds down.
“I think we’re two-deep on defense and I want to see those guys fight it out,” Rodemaker said of building depth. “Offensively, I just want to see us get better. I’m not sure if we’re two-deep at every position on offense. We’ve got some guys that have got to get better without being pushed by somebody behind them. That’s just the way it is. A lot of our guys don’t have quality backups behind them and that requires you to be more disciplined and improve when nobody’s pushing you.
“Knowing if you had somebody behind you and you make mistakes, then they’re gonna move ahead of you. Unfortunately, with the depth we have offensively, if they make mistakes, we’re not good enough behind them to fix it so they’ve got to be self-disciplined to make that work.”