Call it a sixth sense or something. Itís the air of excitement felt by fans, an eagerness to get started felt by coaches, and a dream of achieving greatness felt by players. It can only mean one thing. Football is back.
The Tarleton Texans began fall drills Thursday with a record 100 student athletes hitting the field turf at Memorial Stadium. Day one was spent with no pads, just helmets, as coaches and players concentrated on knocking off the rust and establishing the practice tempo necessary with the season opener just over three weeks away.
"All-in-all, everything went pretty well, considering it was the first day," said Tarleton Head Football Coach Sam McElroy. "We really got after it, and everyone seemed to be in pretty good shape."
Linebackers coach Henry Cofer agreed with McElroy concerning the tempo. "All we can ask on the first day is that these guys give 100-percent effort, and I think we got it today," he said.
The tempo and conditioning of the Texans is a testament to their hard work over the summer. McElroy noted that over 50 players were on campus during the summer lifting weights and keeping up with their conditioning.
Offensively, the Texans ran into the usual first day difficulties with timing being off in the passing game, but McElroy said that wasnít a concern this early on.Tarleton began learning a new, more multiple offense this spring with the hiring of new Offensive Coordinator Dave Wiemers, but the transition appears to be going smoothly.
Quarterbacks Scott Grantham and Logan Cordes shared time running the first-team offense (see related story concerning the Texansí on-going QB battle), while David Durrell took most of his snaps with the second unit.
Michael Sampson, the Lone Star Conference South Division Offensive Back of the Year in 2006, split carries with the first-team, as Roderick Smith, last yearís co-Freshman of the Year in the LSC South, got his share of work in as well. Junior college transfer Travis Evans rotated in with the second team.
Defensively, the Texans are trying to pick up where they left off a year ago. The Texan defense was best in the LSC in rush defense in 2006, giving up only 90.5 yards per game. Coach Darian Dulinís stop troops were third in scoring defense, allowing just 18.1 points per battle.
The only snag of the day came in the morning when storms rained out practice for the incoming freshmen, who were back on the field during the afternoon session going through conditioning drills.
"Thatís not the way you want to start your college career, being stuck in a gymnasium, but thereís nothing you can do about mother nature," Cofer said.
"The guys all seem real excited to be here," Coach McElroy concluded. "Iím very proud of the way we got after it."
Practice continues today on the Tarleton campus. The fans will have their first opportunity to catch the Texans in action August 16, at the annual Purple vs. White fall scrimmage.