Now in his second offseason, Grapevine head football coach Randy Jackson has spring football off to the kind of start he wants as the Mustangs are getting ready for Year 2 under his direction.
The steps for the program to grow and reach another level are tangible. Players understand what Jackson wants. No one is just happy to be there. Grapevine had gone through six workouts as this week began.
In 2014, Grapevine survived a rough start in non-district play and rallied to go 3-7, qualify for the Class 5A Division I playoffs before falling to Wichita Falls Rider in the bi-district round. Grapevine finished 3-8.
“It means everything is much faster in terms of how we are doing things so that’s what we want to see,” Jackson said. “I’ve been real happy with our progress.”
New defensive coordinator
In late April, Jackson replaced departed defensive coordinator Charles Wheeler with former Mount Vernon head coach Mike Alexander.
While making a change with any coordinator can change in the way things are done, Jackson called this one pretty seamless. Alexander has a 3-4 defensive background which coincides with what Jackson prefers. Alexander started full-time in late April.
“I don’t know if you’ll notice a big difference in the stands when you watch us,” Jackson said. “It’s a defense that I believe in. This is going to be a good fit. I’ve known Mike for years. He’s been a head coach for the last four years. For him to come here, we’ve hit a home run.
“Maybe the one thing that could be different is that we’ll probably be in more zone coverage. But that’s about it.”
Learning new terminology can be a challenge. However, Jackson doesn’t necessarily worry about that. He said it took his defensive players about two days to learn everything.
“Kids are the smartest ones out there when it comes to adjusting to everything,” Jackson said.
Never stop learning
Jackson spent part of his offseason attending new SMU head coach Chad Morris’ practices. There are some things that he said he will use with his offense moving forward into 2015. Morris is considered one of the top offensive minds in college football because of his tempo. Clemson offenses were known for how fast they moved. Morris is hoping to create the same type of style at SMU in his first year.
Jackson and Morris have known each other for years. Jackson said he got to know Morris better when Morris was the offensive coordinator at Clemson and recruited Texas when Jackson was at Mesquite Poteet and Plano East.
“I just like how they call some things better,” Jackson said. “Chad just gets it. I felt like everything was more efficient.”
Sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman added 18 pounds to his frame in the offseason and is now 6-2, 188.
But that only tells part of what of he has done since mid-November. Jackson points to the first 7-on-7 workouts in January where Bowman had a calming presence and command of the huddle and the offense.
In 2014, Bowman made eight starts in place of the injured Sam Barry and threw for 1,676 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“College coaches look at him and are really surprised,” Jackson said. “He’s still 15 and just has a different presence about him. There’s so much confidence about how much he can do now.”