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Thursday, June 8, 2023


Football showing intensity, tempo in spring practices


The Cougars matched up in the circle drill, a test of toughness for the players. | Efren Diosdado/The Cougar

When the team stepped out on the practice field for spring training, the cloudy skies seemed to slow down their intensity.

Head coach Tom Herman noticed something was off as he huddled up the team to give them a pep talk that immediately hyped everyone up.

“I think there’s a lot of guys that realize that the bar has been set really high around here,” Herman said. “They’re pleasers, and they want to do right, but at the same time I feel like it’s making a few of them timid and afraid to make mistakes. That’s not who we are. We’ll never be a timid outfit, and we’ll never be afraid to make mistakes.”

After Herman broke the huddle, Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” cued on the speakers, the sun pierced through the clouds and the team’s intensity rose.

“I said ‘Just stick your foot in the ground and go’,” Herman said. “’Understand that you have 100 brothers that got your back that are right beside you (and) a bunch of coaches that love you that are right beside you’.”

Senior defensive tackle B.J. Singleton said he felt good and enjoyed getting back into the rhythm of things.

“It shows what you’re made of,” Singleton said. “Because in spring you’re practicing to play nobody. It’s just will, the will to practice, the will to work hard and the will to do things right, and that tests a lot of people.”

After the huddle, Herman began his circle drills that turned the practice into a form of competition and fed to the team’s intensity.

“Circle drill is the definition of who we are,” Herman said. “It is man against man, will against will. The essence of football, especially in the trenches, is to move a man where he doesn’t want to go against his will, and that’s what the circle drill is. It was good for day one, but I think it could be a little better.”

There were a few high school football coaches in attendance evaluating the practice. The coaches’ consensus of the Cougar’s practice was that it was “intense” and “up-tempo.”

Hightower High School’s offensive coordinator Freddie Maynard said he enjoyed the energy.

“They’re getting after it pretty good,” Maynard said. “Everyone is running around, including the coaches, so that’s good for the entire program.”

Galena Park High School’s receivers coach John Wayne Simms said the pace the team carried throughout the practice showed where its gets its speed from. Simms said he picked up some tips that he could apply to his own coaching.

“At our high school, we try to play up tempo, but our practices aren’t quite this fast,
Simms said. “The way they transition from spot to spot would definitely help us pick up our speed.”

North Shore High School’s assistant coach Joe Price said Houston takes a really aggressive approach to play calling. Price said he’d like to recreate the energy in his practices.

“Everyone is flying around,” Price said. “(There’s) a lot of energy at practice and that’s always good when building a championship team. (I would like to) figure out how to create the same type of energy and competitive environment every day at practice.”

Herman said the purpose of the spring practice is to develop the culture of how to practice and build physical and mental toughness.

Singleton said the pace they practice in the spring shows what everyone in the team is made of.

“We’re not going to see who’s going to fold in August or in September, we want to see who folds right now,” Singleton said. “That’s really what it’s about.”

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