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Appalachian State coaches pleased with new defensive scheme
Appalachian State is nearing the halfway point of spring football practice, and Coach Scott Satterfield said he likes what he’s seen so far.
“I feel good about it right now,” Satterfield said. “Our staff is doing a great job of coaching these players. We have a lot of energy in practice and we’re doing a lot of teaching. One thing our guys are doing is playing with tons of effort — and that’s one thing you want to see in the spring, along with the learning part.”
A focal point this spring has been installation of a 3-4 scheme by new defensive coordinator Nate Woody.
“I think the guys are taking to it pretty good,” said Woody, who spent the last 12 seasons molding Wofford into one of the Football Championship Subdivision’s top defenses. “Probably the most important thing for us is that we do well up front. That transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 hinges on defensive lineman learning to read blocks, penetrate and make plays for you up front. And I’ve been pleased with that so far this spring.”
Woody said some minor injuries at linebacker have hindered overall progress a bit, and that he likes what he sees in a deep and physical secondary.
“John Law and Brandon McGowan, inside linebackers, are starting to get a few reps now, but we’re bringing them along being smart in what we do,” Woody said. “Everybody else has had opportunity to get reps.
“I feel like I have guys that can get it done — and it’s not just at the first level of the defense. I think in the second group there are some guys that can really step in there and play for us, too. That’s what spring ball is about — giving everybody a chance and seeing what guys can do, and making the defense fit for your personnel.
“At the end of the spring, if I can just say these guys play hard and they play fast, then I’ll be happy. If that’s the case coming out with just one defense, just one front and one coverage, I’ll still be happy. If we’re standing around and trying to figure things out then things will be tougher for us. But so far, they’re giving us effort and we’ve still got enough practices to get to where we want to be.”
Satterfield said that Michael Frazier, who moved from running back, and Patrick Blalock, who has moved from free safety, are doing well at outside linebacker. Satterfield also said that Joel Ross, who played at the star position last position, is performing well at cornerback.
Offensively, Satterfield said that he has been particularly pleased with his team’s offensive line and receiving corps.
“The offensive-line guys have played together for a year now and they’re really starting to mesh, and they’re not making many mistakes up front,” Satterfield said. “And our top six receivers haven’t missed a beat. They’ve stepped right in and done a great job for us.
“At quarterback, it’s still a work in progress (the primary focus is finding a backup to Jamal Jackson, who is sitting out this spring recovering from knee surgery). They’ve got to take care of the football better. And at running back, Ricky Fergerson has done a great job for us.”
The Mountaineers will incorporate a scrimmage into today’s practice. A full scrimmage is set for next Saturday in Charlotte, and spring practice will wrap up April 20 with a spring game in Boone.
By Tommy Bowman, Winston-Salem Journal