“We’re in shorts,” Patterson said, smiling.
Yes, the days of football teams opening camp with an Oklahoma drill, or something of that nature, are long gone. It’s all about injury-prevention and easing players into fully padded practices.
Saturday, Day 2 of fall camp, featured players in helmets and shorts. But there were compete periods and team drills and, of course, plenty of eyes on the quarterback position.
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Quarterbacks Shawn Robinson and Michael Collins each had their moments, and so did the skill position players. It’s hard to judge linemen without pads on.
Wide receiver Jalen Reagor made a nice move to get open during one-on-ones, and safety Innis Gaines had an interception later in practice.
Freshmen receivers John Stephens Jr. and Taye Barber flashed during practice as well. But, as Patterson said, this is “basketball.”
“Right now we’re teaching, so I’ll have to see how it goes,” Patterson said.
Patterson and his coaching staff spend the first week of camp “teaching” everything from formations to fronts to blitzes.
Patterson likes to focus on a particular aspect a certain day, and then move on to the next the following day.
“At the end of the day, we watch it and then we forget it,” Patterson said. “We teach something new the next day, so we’re going to be going into Day 3 tomorrow teaching something new. We do that for five days, sixth day we kind of get better at it all, and then we scrimmage a little bit and find out what we’re going to do [on the seventh day].
“So, right now, we’re going into Day 3. It seems like a month, but we’re only going to be going into Day 3 tomorrow.”
Day 3 will be a step up from “basketball” as the players will wear “shells.” Next week, they’ll advance to a fully-padded practice.
For now, it’s about getting the players used to practicing again and understanding the coaching principles. Patterson is pleased with the energy level so far as the Horned Frogs begin to lay the foundation of contending for the Big 12 title once again.
“It’s not bad,” Patterson said. “We’ve got a long ways to go to be where we need to be.”
It starts with settling position battles at key spots such as quarterback (Robinson and Collins) and left tackle (Austin Myers or Anthony McKinney). But Patterson likes the depth of his team, especially at the skill positions.
He’s running the third- and fourth-team more during team periods, something that he hasn’t done as much of in the past. Part of that is the quality of depth, part of that is the new redshirt rule where players can play up to four games without losing a year of eligibility.
So Patterson and his coaching staff have plenty to figure out with less than four weeks until the season opener against Southern on Sept. 1. They just hope to have enough “great players.”
“Our definition of a great player is one that makes everybody better when you step on the field,” Patterson said. “So do you make everybody better? We’re looking for 11 guys who can play together, make everybody better. Then you look for your next 11 and go about your business.”