Football Heads into Final Two Weeks of Spring Practice
Photo by Matt Howdeshell, NAU Media Relations
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona football team completed their third full week of spring practice with a scrimmage in cold and windy conditions Friday. But Head Coach Jerome Souers likes what he seen so far out of his team and the play in the second scrimmage.
"It was a good exchange," said Souers. "At times the offense looked awesome, especially running the football. Defensively, I thought we were more physical today. It is tough when you look at the mid line of a team. When there is a big play on one side of the ball or other, one is a great play and one is a mistake that needs to be repaired. Our secondary really tightened up there coverage today. We had a few dropped interceptions that would have been good plays for us defensively."
The Lumberjacks have six more practices including a pair of scrimmages on April 21 and the Spring Game on April 28. There is still plenty to work on.
"We want to polish our quality of play," said Souers. "We starting to see settling of the guys that our seniors and guys that had a great offseason. I love the physicality of our offensive line and at tight end and fullback. The run game looks exceptional for this time of year. The things we need to work on include the perimeter play between our quarterbacks and receivers and our secondary. Then I think we will have come really close to the goals we have to meet during spring ball."
Senior running back Austin Shanks has seen action at running back this spring, filling in at a position short on depth but adds to the talent in the back field.
"We have had a vision of him playing both, said Souers. "As we move to into more two-back type of formations he is guy that can play slash. He can play the slot and wideout or in the backfield. It is often difficult to gang up on him by formation. Putting a guy like him with Zach Bauman in the lineup at the same time is a benefit for us. He is a tremendous running back and tremendous talent and to be able to run routes makes him that much more of a threat."
Souers and his staff have also had a chance to evaluate mid-year Fullerton junior college transfers Chima Ike and Steven Garcia. The Lumberjacks lost four seniors on their defensive line depth chart, including Blayne Anderson, Isaac Bond, Alex Hutton and Dan Pela. They combined to make 31 starts during the 2011 season.
"Steven is an excellent pass rusher," said Souers. "He is so quick. He creates a two-way go problem for an offensive tackle. It is what we wanted and needed out of him. He is getting more comfortable with his teammates. Ike on the inside is a little terror in there. He is not the biggest guy but he plays with great heart. I am pleased with their contribution on the defensive line. They are going to add to the guys coming in this fall. I like the defensive line and it will be deeper that we thought coming out of last fall."