Football team bonds, practices under time crunch

Jessalyn Castro

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Linebacker, Lafrontae Conkleton, business junior, runs the ball down the field trying to get past his teammates in a drill during practice, Monday August 24, 2015. Photo by Francisco Martinez

Linebacker, Lafrontae Conkleton, business junior, runs the ball down the field trying to get past his teammates in a drill during practice, Monday August 24, 2015. Photo by Francisco Martinez

With the opening of football season 10 days away, head football coach Bill Maskill said he is focusing on preparing players to improve over last year’s 6-4 record.

“Expectations are always to be better than last year and perform at a higher level than what we started off as,” Maskill said.

With 53 new players composing more than half the team, Maskill said the 22 slated practices are not a lot of time to get everyone ready. In the past the team has had 27-28 practices before the first game which is Sept. 5, more than a week earlier than last year’s Sept. 13 season opener. Although fewer practices puts the team under a crunch, Maskill said he believes it will be a good thing for the players in the end.

“By opening up this early, our kids are going to have to be on point every practice,” Maskill said. “That’ll probably be a good thing because in the past it kind of dragged on and the players would get mentally tired.”

Maskill said this season differs from past seasons because they are doing preparation differently and the team has bonded more. Although the team has undergone a lot of changes, Maskill says most are not obvious to people outside of the team.

“We’ll do some things different internally but I don’t think that the naked eye will notice anything drastic,” he said. “From what I saw in the spring and where I think that we are at right now our kids might be a little bit closer and might’ve bonded a little bit better.”

Even though the team didn’t get to finish the spring game due to bad weather, Maskill said they had a good spring practice as a lot of kids took ownership who hadn’t taken it before.

“Our big emphasis in the spring was to compete against each other and have fun doing it, enjoy the process,” Maskill said.

In an attempt to improve each season, the coaching staff looks to try new things, not repeat the same practices.

“I’m a believer in: you have a plan, and along that plan you have to be able to improvise and adjust,” Maskill said.

Playing three new teams in the pre-season matches before the Lone Star Conference play, Maskill said the first three weeks will be really challenging.

“We’re playing three teams that we’ve never played before. It’s going to be a real challenging schedule for us,” Maskill said. “We open up with Truman State, last year we played Missouri S&T. This is a tougher opponent to open up with.”

The teams in the Lone Star Conference were ranked with Angelo State first, Texas A&M Commerce second, MSU third, West Texas A&M fourth, Tarleton fifth, Eastern New Mexico sixth and Texas A&M Kingsville seventh.

Maskill said he doesn’t necessarily believe each team, including MSU, should be ranked in the spot they were given.

“It’s going to be a real balanced league,” Maskill said. “Everybody will have a chance to win.”

With new players and returners learning their rolls on the field, Maskill said the most important thing for the players to do is to stay healthy.

“If we stay healthy and fresh we’ll have an opportunity to play better than anyone,” he said. “And if we’re not healthy and we’re not fresh then we’re going to have some issues.”

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