By John R. Schirmer
Fall camp began Monday morning for the Nashville Scrappers, starting a month of practice leading up to the season opener Sept. 1 at home against Hope.
“It’s always exciting to get back for the start of fall camp,” Coach Mike Volarvich said. “The way football has evolved, the first two days are a little repetitive. We’ll establish tempo and work on alignments and assignments.”
Teams work in pads at team camps and other summer activities, then report for fall camp where pads aren’t allowed the first two days under Arkansas Activities Association guidelines. During that time, the Scrappers will “focus on small things, tedious things to teach,” Volarvich said. “They watch YouTube and Twitter and see things that get you beat. We’ll work on finishing drills, ball reception, doing things the right way.”
Volarvich said there “weren’t a ton of busted assignments” on day one. Those were more common 10-15 years ago when there weren’t as many summer activities. “Now that we have them in summer, there’s not a day one. There are less busted assignments.”
On opening day, “Some of the better players did some good things. Some of the younger guys sat in the back and acted like younger guys. Some of the younger guys really stepped up,” Volarvich said.
Sophomore Ryan Brown “did a really good job. He’ll play a lot,” Volarvich said.
Jamarte Gillam didn’t play last season, according to Volarvich. “He’s very athletic. He’ll help us this year a lot.”
Lance Easter “had a good July. He did some good things today.”
Bug Morrisson “did a really good job. He brings some explosiveness.”
The Scrappers will “learn how to practice and not feel sorry for ourselves when they play hard or are coached hard. We’ll concentrate on little things.”
The rest of the week will find the Scrappers practicing in the mornings and wrapping up about 11:30.
The team will hold a scrimmage Saturday at 10 a.m. at Scrapper Stadium. “That’s a chance to see how far we’ve come and see if we’re getting better,” Volarvich said.
Monday and Tuesday were spent without pads, working on alignment, assignment and tempo. Players will don shoulder pads Wednesday. “That will change the dynamic a little. We’ll get more physical. We’ll teach how to practice physical but stay off the ground. Overall, it’s about learning how to practice, how to go full speed,” Volarvich said. “We don’t want a lot of guys tackled to the ground. If we get two or three banged up, that can change the course of the season.”
Volarvich saw some playing time at quarterback Monday morning. Asked to evaluate the new quarterback, Volarvich said, “He’s very rusty,” referring to himself. “The competitive nature is there; the feet aren’t always.”
Volarvich, a former college quarterback, threw some passes and ran the ball on occasion at Monday’s practice.
“We’re working two quarterbacks in camp. There are lots of balls to be thrown. I try to take some reps when I can. We don’t want a guy with his arm hanging because he’s sore from throwing so much” at practice.
Volarvich said he is “excited for the season to get underway. We have a good nucleus of guys who really enjoy playing the game of football.”