MIAMI — After transitioning to full pads entering the second week of spring drills, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen are focusing on “the speed of the game” during sessions on Red Robertson Field.
“We’re stressing the difference in the speed of a game at this level by increasing the times between getting on and off the field each play,” first year Golden Norse head coach Zach Allen said.
“Once they understand that, we then progress to the amount of time it takes to send a call in, have it processed and have it executed on either side of the football.
“We put them in high pressure and high tempo situations,” Allen said. “We make sure that they understand that we want practice to be faster and more difficult than any game they would have played in.
“Every practice we want our players to experience difficult situations and be place in positions where they have to overcome adversity,” Allen said. “Once they figure out they can do that, they get more confident and we all move forward.”
Allen, a former assistant offensive line coach and before that a defensive line and coordinator coach, believes that his team is a physical football team.
“I think we are ahead of the calendar with our physicality in that regard,” Allen said. “We’ve got to learn to play together and do the fundamentals the right way which is an ongoing process.
“I’ve been happy with both our aggressiveness and our physicality so far,” Allen said. “We teach our players to play within themselves by correcting them on some mistakes that they make as quickly as possible by explaining how they got out of position on this play or you might have gone for an electrifying hit, but you gave up 15 yards on a penalty because you didn’t do the right assignment on the play.
“The most important parts of this game are moving the football, stopping the football from moving, scoring with the football and stopping people from scoring points,” Allen said. “It’s not about who can hit the hardest, it’s about who can be successful within the framework of the system.”
More than 90 prospects continue to practice pads for one hour in full pads on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on Red Robertson Field.
"We will have two evaluative intrasquad scrimmages at 9 a.m. on April 14 and April 21," Allen said. "We'll have some other full-pad days, but those two dates will be our heavy evaluation days as coaches in game-like situations.
"During these two scrimmages, our quarterbacks will be 'live' and placed in game-type situations that they will see on Saturdays," Allen said. "We want the scrimmages to be as physical as possible."
The spring workouts conclude on Thursday, May 3 at 6 p.m., with the traditional Blue-Gold scrimmage.
“Mentally, I think we’re right on tract with our installs on both offense and defense,” Allen said. “Even though I feel good about where we are, there are always some individuals that we have to bring along and we’re always only going to be as good as the last guy on the depth chart.”