Luck smiled on the Nederland football team Friday. On the first day the team could strap on pads for the 2012 preseason, the weather cooperated beautifully, with an overcast sky and even a nice little breeze.
“The story of the day might be the weather,” Nederland head coach Larry Neumann said. “I can’t remember a first day in pads in my life as player or coach that was more conducive to putting on pads for the first time. This is the first time we saw the sun (at the end of practice). For southeast Texas, it felt like November. It was unbelievable.”
Neumann was pleased in how his team looked after the first workout, but is constantly evaluating things. After each practice, he and his coaches retire to their offices to review tape of said practice and look for things they might have missed the first time around.
“For the most part, we’re about where we expected to be,” Neumann said. “I can’t think of one disappointment, which is highly unusual. There’s someone that you thought about in the spring that you were anticipating what they’d look like in pads and, at the start, maybe they’re not where you thought they’d be. Again, I haven’t looked at the video, but I don’t have a negative thought about anyone right now.”
The Bulldogs will continue their workouts, practicing Saturday on the same schedule as this week. They’ll take the day off Sunday before resuming things in pads Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before taking Thursday off for the team’s annual picture day. Friday will be the team’s first scrimmage at home against West Orange-Stark.
Port Neches-Groves and Memorial will open up their fall workouts Monday with four days of conditioning workouts before donning pads on Aug. 17.
Kicking things off
One area Neumann doesn’t anticipate having to worry much about is kicker. Last year, the Bulldogs made a change midway through the season, with then-sophomore Tanner Noel taking over duties. Noel is involved with a select soccer team this fall, but has taken plenty of time to continue practicing with the team.
He’s shown a strong leg in workouts this week and appears to have the inside shot at the job this fall. The Bulldogs will be replacing a punter as well, after the graduation of Brett Butler. Since Neumann prefers to have a more athletic player in that spot for some of the things they like to do, Seth Barrow appears to have the best shot at locking down the spot this fall.
Nederland made it through their first padded practice relatively unscathed. After the offense worked in the morning session, starting lineman Cole Brown missed some time in the second session with his pads off. Neumann indicated that all his players, including Brown, passed the conditioning test, so Brown’s problems may be related to the intensity at which he practices moreso than general heat issues.
Defensive tackle Caleb Malveaux also appeared to roll his ankle toward the end of practice, but the injury did not appear to be serious. He sat out the final 15 minutes of practice, but didn’t miss any team sessions.
The Bulldogs held their annual “Shotgun Alley” drill to kick off padded practices. In the drill, two players line up with a ballcarrier behind them. They are opposed by two players across from them playing defense and another stationed behind them.
The goal is for the ballcarrier to get to the other side of the “alley,” but the real goal is more about getting used to contact and making sure players get used to the contact in pads. Neumann said he was pleased with the entire team’s work in the drill.