|Wildcats practice difficult situations|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
August 18, 2004 - The first time the Sulphur Springs Wildcat offense gets in a third-and-long situation this season, they should feel at least a little more comfortable knowing they've been there hundreds of times already in practice.
The Wildcats spend much of their time in the team setting working on certain situations they will ultimately be faced with in games.
"We believe that if you get out here and just run plays, that's OK, but you can prepare them better if they're thinking about the situation. Once we get started, we'll probably work at least one segment of third-and-long every day," said head coach Brad Turner. "When we get to team drills, we try to put them in situations they'll be in during games. We might do a third-and-short, we might do on our own 5-yard line coming out. We like to start with a two-minute or hurry-up drill to kind of get our pace going good.
"We put them in situations that emulate a football game so they're not surprised when they get there."
He points to last year's game at Sherman when the Wildcats went 39 yards in 25 seconds, including an 11-yard sideline completion from Ryan Henry to Tremayne Jones and third-and-10, to set up Blake Birchfield's field goal as time ran out in the half.
"We practiced that type of situation," Turner said. "Sometimes we do good and sometimes we don't do good, but at least when we get to it in a game, they've been in that situation before."
In Tuesday's practice, the offense didn't get a first down in the third-and-10 situation on its first three plays, despite a nice juggling catch by wide receiver Talon Askew for a 9-yard gain. But, then they went three for their next three in completions, including a bomb to speedster Keelan Green and first down passes to wide receivers Spenser Daniel and Eric Chenault.
"It gives them something to think about," the coach said. "If it's third-and-long, the receiver knows he has to run his route past the first-down marker. If it's coming out of the end zone, we've got to really protect the football."
This season is a little different because of the quarterback situation. Last year, incumbent Ryan Henry was ingrained as the starter. This year, sophomore Logan Turner and junior Josh Riley are both running plays with the starting offensive unit.
Situational practices helps Coach Turner whittle down the playbook for each quarterback.
"Another good thing is coaching-wise, you get a good feel for what we're good at. You can't have 25 different third-and-long plays. We might have two or three. We'll try a bunch of stuff in practice, and then we'll narrow it down to what we do well. As a result, hopefully, we'll do well on Friday nights."