A-State Fall Camp is almost over. With the season just 18 days away, the Red Wolves are fine-tuning the Monster they are building.
Wednesday morning marked practice 11 of 15 before school starts back. How are the Red Wolves and the stadium construction doing?
The North Endzone Expansion is starting to truly take shape. The main seating areas are nearing completion, though the premium seating seems to still have a bit of work left. Letters are going up (and coming down, apparently) on the walls. It read “CEN” at one point, but by the time I got there, it simply said “E”.
With only 18 days until opening night, the construction crew was hard at work with a larger presence than normal. It still seems the project is slightly behind schedule, but there has yet to be an official update for a completion date.
Never look too much into a practice itself, but instead how the players practice.
The intensity was high. Every player seemed to be giving it their all. No one seemed to be only going through the motions. There was heart involved.
The tempo was a huge focus, and the players seemed conditioned well enough to endure it. Coach Anderson was somehow all-business, yet still fun and energetic. The atmosphere felt special.
- Justice Hansen is the real deal. Dude was phenomenal. His back-shoulder throws look NFL worthy. He showcased his arm strength, accuracy and footwork, hardly ever missing a target. It seemed like every throw, whether short or deep, was right on the money.
- Passing, in general, was great. Backup QBs were making stellar throws. There wasn’t a huge dropoff from the first team to reserves.
- The receiving core looked second to none. Route-running was great and though some catches were solid, the QBs didn’t make them work too hard for them.
- Pass coverage was pretty stout. The WRs didn’t make it seem that way, but most balls that were thrown were covered about as well as possible. The receivers just made more plays than the DBs. Hansen hardly ever missed a throw, so I wouldn’t put too much of the fault on the DBs.
- I know it’s practice and the QBs aren’t going to get hit, but the O-Line did a great job of protecting the QBs and giving them time to make plays, whether in the pocket or on a rollout.
- The energy was great. You could tell the players (and coaches) were enjoying themselves.
- Again, it’s just practice, so take it with a grain of salt. Tackling seemed to be…less than perfect. One good juke or cut by ball carriers and the tacklers were down for the count, whether in drills or offense vs defense practice.
- However, despite the line blocking well and the defense missing tackles, the running game never really got going full force. A couple runs broke through the line (where the whistle was blown), but most were stuffed at the origin. I believe it was a result of the defensive line stepping up, but it could be an area of concern if the fault is on the offensive end.
- Going back to the last point, the offense looked slightly one-dimensional, but the one dimension that worked was outstanding. However, in Sun Belt play and on the road at Tuscaloosa, one-dimensional offenses won’t thrive very well.
The practice playlist was poppin’.
Coach Anderson “Walked it Like He Talked It” as the Migos boomed on the speakers. “Hustler Musik” by Lil Wayne and a couple songs by Kendrick Lamar highlighted the middle portion, but a huge weak point was “Nice for What” by Drake. I mean, come on. This is college football, not a sorority recruitment event. Two notable skips were Kanye West and Kodak Black, in case anyone was wondering.
The bass works on the speakers, by the way.
Saturday (August 18) is Fan Day at Centennial Bank Stadium, which will include the second scrimmage of the fall at 6 P.M.
Hopefully, I’ll see you there!
All photographs are my own