Tigers not as crisp in spring as coach would like
By CONOR NICHOLL
The Fort Hays State University football team held its second spring scrimmage Saturday morning at Lewis Field Stadium. Similar to the rest of the spring, the Tigers competed in windy, chilly weather. In addition, FHSU, with multiple veterans out with injuries, wasn't as sharp as third-year coach Chris Brown wanted.
"It might be like that a little bit in the fall," Brown said of temperatures just above freezing. "So you have got to fight through it and work through it, and you've still got to play in it, and you've just got to do your job and do your assignment, and that's something our guys have really got to start focusing on is doing things right.
"I know we have got a lot of young guys out here running around and trying to learn our systems -- by now, we should have this stuff picked up," he added.
Saturday produced several nice plays, including a reception from senior Tanner Hageman where he caught the ball across the middle, made a move that faked out a defender. Then he raced 30 yards for a score. Sophomore running back Shaquille Cooper flashed his speed, including a 35-yard score up the middle. Cooper, though, had problems again with fumbling.
"Anytime he makes a cut, he gets the ball out too far, so we have really worked on trying to keep it high and tight and to his body," Brown said. "It's just something that he has got to work on through the summer as well. We stress it every day, and you can only stress it so much. There has got to be a time where it just clicks in your head, and you just get used to it."
As well, Brown has been pleased with sophomore quarterback Treveon Albert through spring, but would have liked Albert to throw the ball better than he did Saturday. FHSU has a week left of practice before the annual Spring Game on April 27. Start time is 10 a.m.
"I don't know what was going on today," Brown said. "Put the ball on the ground a lot, a lot of penalties. I don't know if our heads were just in it. You've got to come out here just ready to compete everyday, and our guys just weren't ready to compete today and just weren't into it. We will get that out of them starting Monday, figure out what was going on."
This spring, Fort Hays brought in Eric Overmiller, a Smith Center graduate and former professional kicker, to help with sophomore kicker Drew O'Brien and senior punter Cameron Owens, both returning starters. Overmiller worked with the specialists in a couple of areas, including timing Owens on his punting from snap of the ball to the punt.
"He has been a great addition for us right now," Brown said. "He has really done a good job with Drew and Cameron. It's good to have a guy who knows how to kick and how to punt and actually coaching your guys and teaching them the techniques and fundamentals, just the little things."
Fort Hays did struggle with long snapping, but junior Seth Klausmeyer and sophomore Connor Farmer, who both long snap, are hurt. In addition, junior defensive back Michael Jordan, the Tigers' only returning all-MIAA player, and senior wideout Keaton Callins are out for the spring with hamstring and knee injuries, respectively.