Conditioning an emphasis during early part of DWU football campSeveral times during the Dakota Wesleyan University football team’s practice Wednesday, coaches were yelling at players for not hustling on and off the field.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Several times during the Dakota Wesleyan University football team’s practice Wednesday, coaches were yelling at players for not hustling on and off the field.
Teammates were even getting on each other.
“Two-a-days are always long, tiring and football all day,” said senior linebacker Mike Barnaud. “Overall, we’re taking it pretty well at this point. Actually, I’d say we’re taking it really well. We’re looking the best we have since I’ve been here to start a season.”
DWU, under first-year head coach Ross Cimpl, officially started its 2012 season with two practices Wednesday, both at the Dakota Wesleyan practice field.
The Tigers took the field at 7:35 a.m. with helmets only for the first round of drills, and wore shoulder pads and helmets for an afternoon practice in the wind.
Cimpl said the best thing he saw from the team was the effort put forth.
“We didn’t do everything right by any means, but we played extremely hard,” he said. “We told guys that if they’re going to make a mistake, it’s going to be at 100 miles per hour.”
To wrap up the afternoon session, the Tigers worked through multiple rounds of conditioning workouts. The team had a preseason conditioning test Tuesday afternoon, and senior punter/tight end Derek Carlson said about 75 percent of the team passed.
Cimpl has a good reason to be so focused on team conditioning early this year. In 2011, the Tigers gave up 77 second-quarter points and 66 fourth-quarter points, signifying the team’s inability to close out halves. They allowed 143 of their season-total 216 points (66 percent) at the end of halves.
The reason for those numbers, Cimpl said, is because many of last year’s starting players were also special teamers, forcing them to play too much and get worn out. This year, if a player isn’t able to make the starting lineup, he’ll likely find himself on special teams.
The team also revamped the offseason conditioning program to be more up-tempo and made the preseason conditioning test harder.
More players passed the Tuesday’s test than Cimpl expected, he said.
If a player doesn’t pass, he has to perform extra workouts until the coaching staff feels he is in shape. Though, it’s not a rule to pass to earn a starting spot, according to Cimpl.
“They’ve been working us pretty hard, but you have to keep your stride up,” said Tigers freshman tight end Trevor Schroeder, a Canistota native. “You just keep running until it gets over with and then go back to your dorm and take a nap, rest up for the next day and then keep running.”
The Tigers ended practice with several rounds of sprints Wednesday, the first of several two-a-days in the first couple weeks. One player was even vomiting.
“I think there’s a good majority of our guys who are trying to get better,” Cimpl said. “I think the mentality usually for guys on two-a-days is like, ‘Let’s just get this over with, get it done.’ But I think right now, we don’t have guys that are saying that, but we also haven’t had two padded practices back to back, either. That’s when you’ll see that stuff set in. … It will wear on guys, but that’s all mental.”
One player had no problem with the hard work.
Sophomore running back Arthur Brown was one of the standouts on the first day. Last year he finished with 134 rushing yards last year, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He had the second-most touches on the team behind only starter Josh Endres, but it wasn’t completely his offensive ability that shined Wednesday.
“Just his effort on everything and the conditioning drills,” Cimpl said. “He’s setting a fantastic example. He gets it, and that’s the stuff we’re looking for from all the guys right now.”
Two other offensive players had standout moments when the defense and offense had live drills near the end of the day. Endres made a nice run and tight end Carlson caught a deep pass, both going for touchdowns.
“We have a lot of potential,” Carlson said.
The Tigers continue two-a-day practices Thursday and Friday, before having one practice Saturday and Sunday being an off day. Next week, DWU has two-a-day practices Monday through Thursday.