MIAMI — Spending a week going over what they had learned last season, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen enter the second week of spring football drills making steady improvements.
“Our guys are figuring out what we’re all about here and what it means to play at an up-tempo pace,” Golden Norse head coach Clay Patterson said. “They’re also starting to understand the attitude and tempo we need to play with.
“It’s been a good start so far,” Patterson said. “What we’re seeing as a coaching staff is that we have a lot of players that are growing up both mentally and physically and applying those attributes to the playing field.”
A former player for his uncle, NEO athletic director Dale Patterson, Clay brought with him a very fast tempo, high performance offensive scheme that translated into a 5-5 season record.
Under Patterson’s guidance as offensive coordinator, the Golden Norsemen finished ranked fifth in the nation in total offensive production.
Through 10 games the Norsemen averaged 529.4 total yards per game. NEO’s ground game amassed a total of 2,054 yards while the Norse aerial assault generated 3,240 yards.
Those figures compared to an average of 399.2 total yards per game — 155.2 yards rushing and 244 yards via the pass — during the 2015 season under coach Ryan Held.
NEO also ranked fifth in the nation by averaging 40.8 points per game compared to 33.2 points the previous year.
Even though graduation has made development of offensive linemen the No. 1 priority during spring workouts.
Four of the five starters from last year each signed at the Division I level next season.
“Another point of interest for us during the spring will be the development of defensive end,” Patterson said. “We lost a few guys at both end positions and we’re also going to have to come up with some starters at safety.
“We lost three safeties and three defensive ends, so we’re looking for some guys to step up in leadership roles,” Patterson said. “We’re trying to get these two positions solidified before we bring in our recruits for the summer session.
“During our first six or seven practices we’re relying on a lot of physical drills,” Patterson said. “We using a lot of hitting drills to emphasize the way we play.
“We beat them up pretty good these first few practices because that’s the nature of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference,” Patterson said. “Then we’ll back off a little bit next week before our first intra-squad scrimmage.”
NEO’s first of three scrimmage sessions will be at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 15 on Red Robertson Field.