On Saturday, Special Teams/Tight Ends Coach Vince Okruch met with the press to discuss progress to date as Spring football has passed the halfway mark in terms of practices. One critical piece that was discussed was the coaching staffs’ focus this spring. Rather than work on schemes, the staff is working on the basics. Here is what Okruch said about that:
“Well, to be honest with you, this spring we’ve been focusing on the fundamentals. We haven’t done a lot of ‘scheme things’ because until we get as good as we can on the fundamentals, the schemes aren’t going to matter.”
Special Teams is Okruch’s main focus, and he was quick to share that the special teams’ weakness last year was not on the feet of punter Michael Cintron or kicker David Bonagura. Okruch said:
“We didn’t kick very well, we didn’t punt very well, but we didn’t cover very well, either. So we have kinda put the thing in reverse, backed it up, and we are doing an incredible amount of work, times, reps, what ever you want to count it, in the fundamentals of coverage.”
What is Coach Okruch talking about when he speaks of fundamentals? It is exactly what you would want.
“Its from footwork, its from where you place your hands, how you release, how you gain an advantage in coverage, and if you can’t gain an advantage what’s your counter move.”
Special teams are currently working on these skills three times longer than usual. In most spring practices, the special teams would work at these skills in a phase for five minutes. Currently, they are spending eight minutes per phase, and doing two per day, so they are spending three times the normal time on just these skills.
There are only a couple of new recruits in the spring, as they would be the early enrollment players. The enrollees are Micah Clark, Jamaal Beaty, Sam Vretman and Brendan Bordner. Our own Mike Voza shared more details on them here and here. However, Okruch stressed that anyone can start on this team, it is about skill, drive and desire.
“For us, anybody can play. You don’t have to be here two years, three years. They can have an immediate impact. I hope some of them do. It will be interesting to see how fast they can adjust to the college game and help.”
Coach Okruch was asked how Miles Nash was performing in his new role. Miles moved from defensive lineman to tight ends in the new offensive scheme under new Offensive Coordinator Jerry Kill. Not any one thing stood out in moving the 5th year senior from defense to offense.
“[Nash] is doing a good job, he’s getting better. I have no reservations. He’s getting better each day. You know, it’s a little bit foreign to him, having been on defense for so long, but he’s been a pleasant addition to the group.”
To see the entire interview, see below:
Also, Saturday’s practice was designated as Student Appreciation day. Here are couple of tweets from @RUAthletics.
Students were invited “into the bubble” to see what goes on in a normal practice. They team also had some student-focused events, and opportunities to get up close and personal with the players as they worked out. It really is an opportunity to “rub elbows” with players and see how they prepare. To read our contributor Namrita Singh’s experience from Student Appreciation Day, click here.
Though it is hard to believe, spring practices are more than half over, and the spring game looms at the end of next week. This weekend I will be visiting a practice session inside the bubble, and will give you a view of what a spring practice looks like from the inside.