Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shenandoah University | Brandon's Huddle Buzz

August 28, 2012

WINCHESTER, Va. - After a two-day delay, it is time for another edition of 'Brandon's Huddle Buzz.

Now that camp is over and the regular season is about to start, I can fully reflect on most likely, my last football camp ever. This year's camp was by far the hardest I have experienced at Shenandoah. At times I felt like the coaches wanted to make everyone of us quit with conditioning. Never have they run us in the ground like they did this past camp, but overall it will only make us better.

We lost two very important games last year versus two ODAC opponents in the 4th quarter (Bridgewater, RandolphRandolph-Macon) and that was the main emphasis on getting us in tip-top shape. There were mornings where I was begging for five more minutes of sleep while getting up at 5:30am just to be on the field for the first practice of a two-a-day at 6:15am.

The first full day of pads was intense. Hornet drill (modified Oklahoma hitting drill) got the whole team amped. Bodies were flying, pads were cracking, and while players were waiting their turn to enter the gauntlet they were screaming and cheering their brothers on. Every practice is offense versus defense and there has to be a winner and a loser. We have competed hard against each other this camp because in the end both sides of the ball come together to accomplish one goal: WINNING.

Watching film is essential to our preparation of games and also a key learning tool that we use. By being able to watch every practice and see our mistakes helps become better football players and students of the game. We have watched countless hours of film this camp. Coaches and us players take our film sessions pretty seriously. But there are times when we see big hits or clumsy plays occur that we just can't help to laugh at. Coach Brock McCullough and Coach Kalvin Oliver often like to point out when somebody gets demolished or when somebody gets their ankles broken. There was one day in a film session Coach Brock had to rewind and play a play in slow motion because freshman d-lineman Jake Payne got leveled on a pile-back block by fellow freshman o-lineman Marcus Jenkins. Film sessions have been great learning tools but also can be very comical which can help lighten the mood when one of the coaches get on one of us for making a mistake. Comic relief.

The competition for playing time has been intense as well. On the offensive side of the ball there has been competition battles at almost every skilled position. Calvin Wright and Adam Tibbs have been competing hard for the receiver spot on the other side of Qiydaar Murphy. Freshman Troy Baldwin has made an impact already by taking over the number three receiver spot and punt return duties. Another freshman that has made quiet an impression is running back Andrew Smith who will help the run game out a lot and most likely spell Carl Joseph. The quarterback competition has also been pretty stiff, all three quarterbacks: Phil Gardner, Shawn Lloyd and Corey Taylor, have shown flashes of good things.

The defensive competition had been pretty stout as well. Sean Blackman and LA St. Hill have been rotating in and out with the first team defense at cornerback. Phillip Schoeffel and Buddy Findley have both been getting work at hornet (strong safety) with the first team defense as well. A freshman that is making an impact on defense this year is Michael Messick at weak-side linebacker, who may see some playing time soon. Also the competition between the Griffin brothers, Evan Griffin and Ian Griffin, has been intense.

Even though they are both going to see significant playing time, it's always going to be looked at as a sibling rivalry. Everything they do will be compared to the other.
Annually the defense has a freshman/first-year player talent show where we make all the new guys get up in front of the whole defense and do a "talent". It's not really a talent show; more like a comical thing, just get up there and make everybody laugh type of deal.

This year we had some pretty funny acts. My top two favorite was freshman George Cluster's "first impression of the starting defense", and Evan Griffin's lemon meringue pie to senior Matt Bennett's face. The most popular acts were making fun of our offensive lineman.

I will be back next week with a review of that game and a preview of the Ferrum contest.

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