ASU opens fall camp
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Appalachian State’s football team has until Sept. 1 to get itself ready for the 2012 season. The Mountaineers are off to a fast start.
Appalachian State went through its first two football practices Friday not looking ready to take on East Carolina right away. But the Mountaineers showed the enthusiasm a team ready to improve on an 8-4 season the previous year.
“I felt like the rest of the 99.9 percent of the coaches around the country felt — I thought it was a good practice,” Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore said. “They came in good shape and we worked them hard. We got a lot of reps with a lot of different players. I don’t think there wasn’t a player out there who didn’t get some reps, so that’s a good start for us.”
The Mountaineers worked out in just helmets and shorts, but that didn’t stop them from the occasional tackle or some physical play along the line of scrimmage. The team worked in position groups, in 7-on-7 drills and 11-on-11 drills.
“It was a good one,” quarterback Jamal Jackson said. “The younger guys were nervous, but that’s to be expected. The tempo was real good, so I think it’s going to be a really successful camp.”
They also worked on special teams, including special skills such as punt blocking, in different stations toward the end of practice. Moore said there will be more emphasis on special teams in practice, but said it didn’t have anything to do with special teams play in the past.
“We’re just going at it a little different,” Moore said. “We had a 20-minute walk-through before we ever started practice. We had about a 15-20 minute meeting and then a 20-minute walk-through and what we did out there.”
Several incoming freshman already reached the Mountaineers’ two-deep, especially on defense. Cornerback Dante Blackmon was working with the first team, while linebackers John Law, Greg Hall, Tashion Singleton, Olawale Dada and receiver Malachi Jones all saw significant reps.
Blackmon, a Rivals.com three-star recruit from Covington, Ga., said the pace the Mountaineers practiced at Friday was much quicker than at Eastside High, where he prepped last season.
“The pace is way faster than high school,” Blackmon said. “It’s 10 times faster than high school. I’m still trying to get used to it. As camp goes on, I’ll get more used to it. The pace was fast, but once you get used to it, it slows down.”
“This is their first exposure,” Moore added. “They were probably a little bit tense, wanting to do well and be able to relax. That will happen in two or three days. The good thing was they were here for the entire month of July. It’s not like it was a few years ago. They fit right in.”
Moore said that although Blackmon was working with the first team, it did not necessarily mean he would be in the starting lineup against East Carolina.
“There were several who worked with the ones during the course of the day,” Moore said. “It’s part of the rotation. We’re just looking for reactions from everybody, not just him.”
The second practice ended with the Mountaineers running timed laps around the field much like they did back when Appalachian State was winning national championships. Moore actually used a conditioning schedule from 2007 to end practice.
“We went back to what we used to do during those championship runs and we kind of got away from it,” Moore said. “I used the script that we used in 2007. It’s just a good way to test them and I think the coaches get more involved. The coaches start barking to make their time.”
Moore said backup quarterback Logan Hallock tweaked a hamstring muscle, but Moore didn’t think it was all that serious.
“I don’t think there was anything serious,” Moore said. “We had a couple of guys who had hamstring problems before we came out here. Logan Hallock aggravated his. I don’t think it’s all that bad.”