Newberry shows improvement heading into weekend one
Friday, August 15, 2003 | by NC Sports Information

NEWBERRY, S.C. -- Twenty-two days from Newberry's season-opening contest at Coastal Carolina, the Indian Football squad continued to practice in full pads. Head Coach Zak Willis said Friday was the best practice session of the pre-season to date as players jockey for positions in camp. Special teams practice took to the field Thursday night for the first time as a unit as coaches chirp about accelerated learning curves with their units.

On the defensive side of the football, Defensive Coordinator Todd Knight was pleased with the progress to this point.

"I've put in two of our five defensive packages and we're ready for package three," said Knight, who joined the team fresh from a defensive coordinator position at Charleston Southern. "We're further along than I anticipated. Our depth is better than I thought it might be."

Coach Knight singled out the efforts of Defensive End Tony Ransom, particularly his work on the pass rush.

Linebackers James Breland and Ricky Houser are fighting for time at the inside linebacker position and both players have stepped up their efforts, according to coaches.

Coach Knight also intimated that they are awaiting the 100 percent return of corner Todd Geter and defensive lineman Leo Reed, noting that the complete health of those players will complete the defensive puzzle for the Indians.

On the offensive side of the ball, Co-Offensive Coordinator Joe Blackwell was extremely pleased with the offense in practice, echoing Coach Willis' sentiments.

"We probably had our best day of camp to this point," said Blackwell, who came with Coach Willis from Pikeville College.

Jason Devette was recently moved from offensive line to tight end and Coach Blackwell noted that Devette is making a smooth transition and is doing extremely well.

Wide receiver Derrick Higgins once again had a long touchdown catch in a controlled situational scrimmage and Coach Blackwell said that both quarterbacks Mazi Drummond and Brian Shealy were playing "extremely well."

As for special teams, Coach Daric Riley said that about 75% of the special teams packages were in, but that key positions were still be fought for as practices continue. Field position, punting and kicking will be vital to the team's success this season and the Indians are working hard to improve in that category as well.

The team will have an intersquad scrimmage at 2:15 p.m. Saturday afternoon before Media Day hits on Sunday, beginning at 11 a.m.