Individual drills are focus of Wildcats' offense right now

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Aug. 8, 2007 - Football is a team game, but the Sulphur Springs Wildcats right now are working more on individual drills.

That's especially true on offense, where the receivers are going through intensive route-running techniques, quarterbacks are throwing every chance they get and linemen are learning footwork.

The Wildcats weren't scheduled to go into an actual team-type setting on offense until the second part of today's two-a-day practices, said offensive coordinator Jeff Riordan. The Wildcats are going to more of a wristband technology on offense, which should simplify the offense for the players while speeding up the pace of the game at the same time.

"We're really teaching a lot of technique right now. We're going to be on wristbands and it's really going to tell them what to do," Riordan said. "We had 7-on-7 all summer, so right now our receivers and quarterbacks are way ahead of where we were last year.

"We've got to give our linemen time to catch up with that technique and individual work. It's harder for them because there's five guys in there and they've got to be fluid."

The offensive line is also young. There will likely be at least four underclassmen in the starting lineup. Senior Dakota Graham is the only returning varsity letterman who saw time on the line last season. Who will be starting the season opener is still up in the air, but it's assured they will be learning on the job.

"What's special about them is that they're all young," Riordan explained. "We've probably only got one senior in the mix, and the rest of them are young. We may take our lumps early, but when those young guys finally come together, we're going to have them for two or three years."

While the line may be inexperienced, the skill players for the Wildcats are a healthy mix of senior leadership and underclass athleticism.

Junior Tyrick Rollison returns as the starting quarterback, having improved his speed and strength from last year, while senior Brittan Diamond, who split time at quarterback as a junior, will be in the backfield, sharing time with juniors Quentin Long and Rashad Hall.

All three of the running backs will play defense, also, so they will be rotated in on offense. They all bring something different to the table. Diamond (6-2, 190) is a power runner, while Long (5-6, 150) has speed and quickness, and Hall (5-8, 180) has the athleticism to play virtually any skill position on the field.

In the receiving corps, the Wildcats will be as deep as they have been in a long time, with returning All-District players Daqualin "Boo" Evans and Jeff Beck, along with returning starter Chris Thompson and promising juniors Jace Jackson and Ben Barrows. Hall, Diamond and Long can also fit into the mix.

Riordan said the receivers right now are being drilled the importance of running precise routes.

"The receivers need to know the routes. We're doing a lot of route stations to teach them over and over," he said. "I think that's one of the things we were sloppy at. We went 17-3 in 7-on-7, but I think there were little things with our routes we need to work on.

"We're catching and throwing the ball good, and I think our ground game will be good."

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