Cougars nearing season opener

Published 4:26 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eight days of fall practice has given Escambia Academy head football coach Heath Gibson a perspective of what’s working and what’s not working.

The Cougars have nine days left to sharpen their offense and defense before opening the season with a rivalry game at Sparta Academy in Evergreen.

Through the first eight days, the Cougars have made improvements and shown the leadership needed, Gibson said.

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“Overall, things have progressed well,” he said. “We’ve been practicing now for eight days, so we’ve found a lot of leadership during that time. Since practice has started we found that we also have a lot of depth in places.”

Following spring training, it looked as if the Cougars’ offense would again be the strength of the program.

After watching the team practice over and over, the defense looks to have made a turn and moved ahead, Gibson said.

“A lot of focus has been placed on defense because we tended to struggle on that side of the ball during games,” he said. “We’ve put a large amount of work into our defense, and at this point, it actually looks better than our offense. That’s a good thing because after spring training, we felt that the offense was much further ahead of the defense, but it’s completely the opposite.”

Defensively, the Cougars do not have ideal size, but are making up for that in other places.

The speed of the unit is what gives the Cougars a competitive advantage, Gibson said.

“Our speed and quickness will be what we are relying on when the season starts,” he said. “We run a lot of a 3-5 set with movement all over the field. It allows us to bring a lot of people every play and create some confusion.”

Offensively, the Cougars are working to improve their spread option offense.

Working with motion has been a problem for the Cougars, Gibson said.

“Overall, the problem is timing,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing is getting our timing down because our offense has so much motion involved.”

Before the team’s first game at Sparta, the unit of importance if the offensive line.

Finding starters has been an issue in places, Gibson said.

“We need to establish an offensive line,” he said. “We are definitely looking to fill spots on our line. We might have to move some guys around, but we will have those taken care of by our first game.”

With Sept. 19 approaching, the Cougars are still working, but Gibson likes his squad, he said.

“We still have some work to do as a whole,” he said. “I feel better this year than I did last year, but our scrimmage Friday will give us a good idea of where we stand.”