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Govs Ready for Spring Football Practice
The shoulder pads and cleats get put on as the daisies bloom and the birds return just in time for spring football.
Austin Peay begins its session in earnest today at 7 p.m. The Govs will practice for the next four weeks every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and alternate on Friday and Saturday the first three weeks starting with a Friday practice this week.
The Govs will hold their first scrimmage at 10 a.m. on March 28. The second scrimmage will be at 4 p.m. on April 3. Spring football practice will conclude with the Red-White Spring Game game at 6 p.m. on April 9.
“It’s been a long time and we have a sour taste in our mouths from the last game (of the ’08 regular season). We’re ready to get on the field,” said Govs coach Rick Christophel, who is entering his third season. “I think we have a good group of seniors, most of whom are on the defensive side of the ball, but we have a few on offense. So we have a decent chance of being good on defense.”
The Govs have been conditioning for most of the winter under strength and conditioning coach Ryan Taylor.
“I want to see how we’re going to react from the weight lifting program we’ve done over the winter,” Christophel said. “I want to know if we gained some strength, see how strong we got and see how much we’ve adapted to what’s going on.”
Eastman back in the fold
Austin Peay went 2-9 overall and 2-6 in the OVC last season. Part of the dropoff can be attributed to when defensive coordinator Granville Eastman had to leave the team because of visa issues.
But Eastman is back and will coach the linebackers. Former Tennessee Titan Dainon Sidney will take over the secondary from Eastman, and along with Taylor, will also coach the defensive line. Taylor coached linebackers last season.
“Losing him (Eastman) hurt us and I trust him with the defense. I know he will get after them and that’s important,” Christophel said.
“We’re going to make subtle changes. But the main thing is we’ve got to get our better players on the field, and that’s on both sides of the ball.
“We’ve got some guys who have played a lot for us, but we’re still looking for starters and those who will fill in.”
Christophel will handle the offensive play calling duties, while Marcus Gildersleeve (wide receivers), Steve Haywood (offensive line) and Josh Roberts (running backs) will all coach the positions they have the past few seasons.
Fourth year of scholarships
One of the biggest things about the upcoming season is Austin Peay will graduate its first full scholarship class. The program went back to scholarship football in 2006 after dropping it in 1996.
“That’s very important, and it’s very important to see how we’ve progressed,” Christophel said. “I think we’ve made some strides, but I still think we have a ways to go and I don’t mean that in a bad way. We’ve made some good strides and can compete with everybody in the conference. But we still need some things to get to the next level. But if we keep recruiting like we’re supposed to and have, I think we can get there.”
Govs ready for spring football practice
By James D. Horne, The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle (TN)