CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern continued its Spring Practice schedule on Wednesday morning as the Buccaneers strapped on full pads for the first time in preparation for their first scrimmage. CSU will take the field for their first of three scrimmages this spring on Friday morning at 6 a.m.
The Bucs have hit the field early in each of their first four practice sessions and progress has been made from Head Coach Autry Denson's perspective. However, the Bucs do still have a lot to work on as they continue to implement a new offensive system and adjust to the new coaching staff.
"We've got a ton to work on, but that's a good thing in our perspective," Denson said. "That is what practice is for. The good thing is that the guys are showing up, trusting their coaching, and trying to do what we are asking them to do."
The effort throughout the practice sessions has been evident to those watching as the team is constantly in motion throughout the two-hour practices held at Buccaneer Field.
"They are playing hard," Denson said. "That's the most encouraging thing – if we can control our effort and attitudes, the way we come to work, and what we do at work, we'll only continue to get better."
The adjustment of the coaching staff and the team has also been key to the Bucs development so far this spring. Part of that key is the consistency that the coaches have brought to the field and in their team sessions daily.
"If we can bring the same thing every day, our players know that they can show up and reach the same level of demands and efforts," Denson commented. "I'd hope that we bring to the team a consistent approach that helped build the trust as they continue to do what we're asking them to do on the field."
The Buccaneers hit the field for the first scrimmage of the 2019 spring season on Friday, March 22. The scrimmage is slated to start at 6 a.m. at Buccaneer Field as CSU continues preparations for the 2019 Spring Game set for April 13.
Q&A with rising redshirt senior offensive lineman Stephen Haralambis
What's it like knowing you are in your last spring season?
So far, it's been nice – definitely a little different though. It's my third different head coach and fourth different offensive line coach since I've been here, so we're all still getting used to everything. We still have the guys on both sides of the ball and it's exciting to be back out here. We've got a whole new offense going in that will be more up-tempo and explosive, so it'll be good.
What have you learned over the last five seasons?
I've had many different coaches over me, but I've had great things to learn and hold onto. I've acquired a lot of skills over the last few years. We're working on the cohesiveness so far and looking to keep a lot of the guys together as we continue this spring.
What is it like hitting the field for the 6 a.m. practices?
It's mid-March and it's still 40 degrees when we wake up – that's interesting and funny. We've been waking up early since we've been back since Christmas Break, so I think a lot of the guys are used to it by now. We knock out all of our practices in the morning and have the rest of the day off until meetings to work on schoolwork. I think a lot of the guys are enjoying it.
How is spring practice different than it has been before?
In the past, we've done position work for the first 45 minutes, and then all team the rest of the way. The coaching staff is taking the time for us to learn the plays this spring since it is a new system. We might go 5-10 minutes for positions, then go over the plays, then go to team practice. They are definitely giving us the time to learn and grow.
How is the offensive line holding together as a group?
I've been here for quite some time now, we've had a lot of good players come and go. We have guys who are going to be stepping up this year that could have started last year, so we have some experience. We're not worried about how we're going to be because we know we have guys in place that can step up.
What are you looking forward to from the first scrimmage on Friday?
I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully we'll be going live and we can shut the defense up a little bit and score on them. I'm excited just to have the whole team out there and seeing what we can execute in a game situation and then learning from our mistakes – that's what spring ball is about. I'm excited to get the first scrimmage going and then by the spring game be locked and loaded.
What is Coach Aaron Coeling like to work with?
Coach Cools is real cool, no pun intended. He's young and can relate to us really well. He played football not too long ago, and then he GA'd a Notre Dame. He's real personable to us and can relate to us. He's a coach who has played the position before and can coach us up. When we make a mistake, he spots it, and fixes us immediately. So far, it's been really good and we all enjoy him.