WILBERFORCE — As the two Central State University linemen came rolling his way, new varsity football coach Cedric Pearl showed he still has the footwork of an offensive lineman as he deftly sidestepped the pair of Marauders who were lumbering his way.
Pearl was named the CSU football coach last month. The team was in their sixth Spring practice on Friday on the CSU practice field grounds, and the former Alabama A&M offensive coordinator was busy stressing fundamentals with his linemen during a one-on-one drill.
“The biggest thing that we’re working on right now is that we want to teach the team concept, provide some discipline, and get the guys playing with consistency. That’s the main thing, right now,” Pearl said. “We’re not putting a lot of plays in scheme-wise. We’re focusing on the guys becoming disciplined and playing together as a team, and bringing in a few concepts, so we can go on and evaluate talent.
“We’ve been going for three weeks, so now we’re trying to see just what they do have. … Right now, it’s not about what the coaches know. We want to see what they know, and how they can come out here and execute.”
Pearl took every opportunity that he could to remind his team of their dismal 2-9 season of 2013. He was way over on the far side of the practice field, still working with the offensive and defensive linemen, when he saw a Marauders wideout not carrying the ball properly on a touchdown play.
“Hey! Do that over!,” Pearl shouted across the field. “You guys fumbled the ball 19 times last season, and we can’t have that. You’ve gotta wrap up the ball when you’re carrying it. I won’t stand for that. Do it again!”
A three-year All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference offensive lineman at Tuskegee University in Alabama, Pearl gave the Central State offensive linemen plenty of tips on footwork, positioning and handwork. He even worked in a reference to pro boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. regarding handwork.
“We’re putting the base package in now, for offense, defense and special teams,” Pearl said. “I would say the team is about where I expected they would be. It’s my understanding that they were without a coach for a little while, and while the kids were running some practices on their own, they still need some supervision. They still need a coach who can motivate them and push them to the next level.”
The staff placed the football 9-yard from the goal line, and pitted the team’s best offense against the best defense. If the offense scored, the defense had to run. If the defense held, the offense would run.
The Marauders running back appeared to be stopped initially, but spun his way out of the tackle and ultimately scored. And so the defense dutifully lined up on the sideline and began running wind sprints. … But because the offense wasn’t providing the defensive players with support during their sprints, the coaches made the offensive players run sprints instead.
“We’re a team, and you will support each other out here,” Pearl said.
According to the coach, Central State will have its seventh Spring practice this morning at the school. The team will play its annual Spring Game at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 26 at Yellow Springs High School.