Penn Football All-Access Blog: Tuesday, March 24th

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009: 8:00 PM –10:00 PM
Franklin Field
Philadelphia, PA

Partly cloudy, 42° F

Full pads

Practice Notes:
-Tonight, the Quakers commenced contact drills. During the team’s previous practice on Sunday, there was definitely an intensity indicating the squad was itching to start hitting after the group had shaken off some rust through the first three workouts. This evening’s session marks the beginning of a stretch in which eight of the final nine practices will be conducted in full pads. The lone exception will come on Monday, April 6th, when the club puts on its uppers only the day following the Spring Showcase.

-As you’d expect, the energy level at practice soars when hitting is incorporated into drills. Lots of noise and chatter on the field coming from coaches, support staff, and players alike. No matter that the thermostat read a generous 42° F on campus tonight, members of the Red and Blue, particularly those along the offensive line and defense, relished the chance to be outdoors and vent some pent up football frustrations that’ve been building since the team narrowly missed out on an Ivy League title bid last November.

-The start of contact drills brings with it the introduction of cross over periods, perhaps the most entertaining batch of exercises to observe during these workouts. They’re designed to pit players at like-positions on opposite sides of the field against one another amidst the simulation of in-game scenarios. These drills are so intriguing because they magnify the measure of each student athlete’s strength and fundamentals against another’s. Not only do the exercises provide the coaching staff with a real solid basis for talent evaluation, they also provide incentive for the players to compete with pride, in both the individual sense and for their position as well.

Tonight’s cross over featured a three-station rotation, and matched up the following positions against one another:
Tight End vs. Defensive End
Offensive Guard/Center vs. Defensive Nose Guard/Linebackers
Offensive Guard/Tackle vs. Defensive Ends/Linebackers

-The hitting carried over to ‘skelly’ periods. This portion of practice typically places an emphasis on passing for the benefit of wideouts and defensive backs. These drills were live tonight, as members of the secondary were challenged to make tackles in open space against a receiver.

-The first contact practice of the spring was punctuated with five ‘team’ periods. Tackling was fair game, except on quarterbacks, for three of the five periods, while ‘thud’ exercises (hitting, but no tackling) took place during the other two. QB Keiffer Garton did not participate during these drills; however, he was active for most of the evening.

-Clearly, these full pad practices are designed to develop the collective physical toughness of the Penn football program, but during this portion of spring workouts, the Quaker coaches are also seeking to make their squad stronger in mind. Tonight, for the first time, the staff introduced a stipulation addressing accountability for mental mistakes. For example, if a lineman were to jump offsides, the entire offensive unit was forced to run, with the EXCEPTION of the player that committed the crime. Many players will tell you there is no worse feeling than being the guilty party in a situation like that, and having to watch teammates pay the price.

-Britton Ertman stopped by tonight's workout. The outgoing defensive back received Honorable All-Ivy Mention recognition for his efforts this past campaign. He also earned National Defensive Player of the Week after posting 2 INT, 1 FR, 2 PD, and 6 T in a 15-10 triumph over Columbia, yet remarkably didn't get the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week nod for that performance.

Featured Drill:
Click this link to watch Tight Ends Coach Mark Fabish (former Penn WR, class of ’96) talk about the purpose behind one of this evening’s cross-over drills.

Next Practice:

Wednesday, March 25th; 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM (full pads)