Effort shining through as Lights go through spring
Last updated 4/12/2018 at 11:44am
For the second straight practice, the Montana State University-Northern football team was treated to a glorious spring day as the Lights continued spring football with the second practice of the week.
Monday provided the best weather Northern has seen since it started spring football, but Wednesday offered another picturesque day on the Lights practice field. And this time around, both the offense and the defense took advantage of the pristine conditions, as opposed to the previous practice when the offense racked up big play after big play in the team periods.
Wednesday, both sides of the ball excelled at times. The defense notched three takeaways during the team portions of practice, including interceptions by Alec Wagner and Peter Hamilton, a rising sophomore from Cut Bank. Yet, the offense was also able to generate some big plays. Quarterback Dylan Cook connected with Seth Roemmele on a touchdown during 7-on-7. Fellow signal caller Bryce Missey was also able to find Sam Mix for a score during the passing drill. Overall, the play on both sides of the ball was sharp.
"Practice went well, it was high energy. It was probably the most competitive day we have had hands down," Northern head coach Andrew Rolin said. "Defense would bring great energy on one drill and then the offense would respond. So it was a lot of fun to see guys go out and get after it and compete. They are really learning how to compete. Like I said before the execution is getting there and now the competitive nature is brewing and that's fun to watch."
With no opponent in sight, practice got chippy a few times Wednesday, as some small fights broke out. However, nothing major happened beyond a little pushing and shoving. That came in the final team period that also included a touchdown run by Jett Robertson, as well as some key completions from Tommy Wilson to a slew of different receivers.
"It's exciting when both sides are making big plays," Rolin said. "When I am calling plays, of course I want to win offensively, but it's great to see our defensive line out there making plays. We had three takeaways in practice today and that's what we want to see. Turnover margin is the No. 1 key to winning the football game, so defensively, if we can take the ball away, we are going to be fun to watch."
After some competitive team periods, Rolin decided to create a competitive situation to close out practice, breaking out the chains and giving the offense a first-and-10 with the mission of moving the chains. After three plays, the offense was still one yard short of a first down, prompting a 4th-and-1, which the offense converted when Mix gained five yards on an end around.
"As many times that we can compete, we will be better because of it," Rolin said. "I believe that to my core. We will continue to compete like that and we will have a winner and a loser because that's how it's going to be on Saturdays. These guys have to know what it likes to step up to the plate in a competitive situation, so we try to have at least one of those per practice. We want to compete and fight against each other and try to win."
Something else that was unique about Wednesday's practice was the debut of the effort jersey, which is something Rolin said would be given out to the defensive player giving the best effort. The first player to wear the jersey, which is loosely based off the black shirts given to defensive players at Nebraska, was wide-receiver-turned-corner Caymus Thomas. Thomas is getting snaps with the No. 1 defense and has been among the top defensive backs during spring camp. He made another impressive pass breakup Wednesday, knocking away a deep fall to wide receiver Fotios Jordanoglou.
"That's a fun little wrinkle that we are throwing out there," Rolin said. "We take a lot of pride in giving the most effort, so he the black shirt is a big deal for our defense. (Caymus) has shown up at corner. He has made some big plays and is a natural corner. I know that he has played receiver here, but he is going to have a bright future as long as he continues to do what we ask and continues to grow. But that's what he has been doing and his effort has been great, that's why we was wearing that jersey."
The Lights will be back on the practice field Friday at 4 p.m.