JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) – The Arkansas State football team was back on the field Tuesday for its first practice since returning from spring break, suiting up in full pads for a physical and spirited workout inside Liberty Bank Stadium.
The practice counted as the fourth of 15 this spring for A-State, which held its initial three workouts the week prior to ASU's spring break. The team took part in some conditioning work and reviewed practice film Monday in order to prep for back-to-back practices today and Wednesday.
"It was good to get back in the flow yesterday and discuss what we've learned about our practice structure, tempos and basic drills and schemes," said head coach Bryan Harsin. "Now it's time to really get after it and start to execute the details of what we're trying to accomplish. Although we've got a long way to go, we're making progress and that's what we want to see through these 15 practices."
While the players spent time in shoulder pads and helmets during the first week of practices, today was the first time the Red Wolves worked out in full pads. Today's workout began with a full-contact drill to set the tone for practice, and the Red Wolves' first-year head coach said the players responded with a lot of energy.
"One of the things we've talked about is just being physical on both sides of the ball and that starts with the run game," Harsin said. "Running the ball successfully while also stopping the run is part of the mentality we have to possess. Football is obviously a tough sport and there are some basic fundamentals we have to cover during drills. Our players are ready to compete, and today was an opportunity for them to do that in a more physical practice."
In addition to the individual, position and team drills that are a regular part of A-State's practices, today's workout also emphasized various situations such as red zone offense, third downs and different tempos.
"We want to teach the players all the situations they're going to face during the course of a game so they will understand and recognize them when they occur," said Harsin. "When we talk about tempo, we're really concerned more with playing aggressive, efficient and executing well. We want to make sure our execution is where it needs to be first, and, once we have that, start to pick up the pace. We've done it quickly so far, and that is a credit to our guys coming out here mentally and physically prepared."
The practice also featured several team periods, and the offense and defense both did some positive things according to Harsin.
"I was happy with the progress we made today," said Harsin. "The defense was flying around and making plays with a lot of excitement about what they were doing. The offense made more plays today as well. We're starting to put some groups together and get a little continuity, so things are starting to come together. There is still a lot of work we have to get done, but our guys know this is a process and understand where we are right now."
The Red Wolves will practice again tomorrow afternoon and will hold a coaches clinic as part of their workouts Friday and Saturday. Saturday's practice will feature a closed scrimmage, where Harsin said they will look at a lot of different groups and situations the coaching staff will be able to evaluate and then apply to the rest of spring camp.