LHU Football Looking For Continued Improvement
By BILL ALBRIGHT
LOCK HAVEN — Although Lock Haven University head football coach John Allen and his Bald Eagles haven’t climbed the mountain yet, they are gaining on it, one step at a time.
“Last year we took a big step in what we are trying to do and that is what we are hoping to do again this year,” said Allen. “What has been great is that we (coaches and players) have had the entire off-season together, whereas last year we came in March 15, two weeks later we were in spring ball and two weeks after that they (the players) went home.
Saturday at Hubert Jack Stadium, Allen and his staff put the 2012 version of the Bald Eagles (minus incoming freshmen) through their paces, bringing down the curtain on LHU’s spring workouts.
Although the young Bald Eagles came up short of winning a single game in
the 2011 season, there was a lot of improvement in the program and not only did Allen see that in the spring workouts, but he also saw some of that improvement as it was transferred to the field in the Crimson & White scrimmage.
“The guys have worked real hard and so far, we have executed the plan very well,” said Allen. “We are stronger, we are quicker and we are a smarter football team right now and it shows. The guys are much more confident which adds to the enthusiasm and that is great. Then to end it (the spring) with this type of day with the alumni game is just a good way for us to leave the spring and get ready for the 2012 season.”
In the scrimmage, Allen and his assistants were looking for improvement in certain areas, both offensively and defensively. Although the format was somewhat different in that the alums were face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder with the current players, Allen and his staff were able to see a lot of what they were looking for.
“What I really wanted to see in this game was our ones (starting groups) and the key backups play against our alumni players,” said Allen. “I thought for the alums to line up side-by-side with the younger guys would help make them feel closer to home and a part of it. I thought that was important for us to do that. I also think they (alums) had a lot of fun playing with and against the younger guys to show they can still play a little bit. It was especially good for our first groups to be able to compete live and see where they are. I thought it was fun.”
One of the things that Allen was most impressed with was the way his first two units were able to transfer what they had learned in spring practices to actual game conditions.
“I’ll tell you what, we had some great drives, we had some explosive plays in both the passing and running game and that was important to see,” Allen said. “We didn’t have any drops or turnovers with those groups, we were able to create a couple of turnovers and we swarmed all around the ball on defense. Those were positive things for us to see. Did we have some mistakes? Obviously. But it was nice to see us control the ball and the tempo of the game even when the alumni (defense) stopped us once or twice.”
As is the case with spring practice at any level, there are position changes made. For Allen and his staff, they feel they made some moves that can do nothing but help the team.
“We took a look at some kids in different positions this spring,” Allen said. “When (Matt) Gibson first came in he was on the defensive side of the football and during the season we moved him to the scout team and then to offense. He has really done a heckuva job. He gives us some depth in the running back position and that is what showed up today. We also took a look at (Jed) Greslik and a couple of other kids such as (James) Wilburn who has a hamstring problem and wasn’t able to play today. We will still take a look at a couple other kids when we begin pre-season.”
Then there are the incoming freshman, a class that Allen is very high on.
“We want to try and get them into the right positions where we think they will best help us in the future,” said Allen of his freshmen. “But that is nothing new because you are always evaluating your personnel every day. We’ll take a look at it, but all in all, I think we are pretty well set with this group of kids that is here right now.”
Opening with three tough road games against Fordham, East Stroudsburg and IUP, it isn’t going to be easy. But after coming close several times last season, the Bald Eagles will be looking for that elusive first win of Allen’s tenure as head coach and when they get it, who knows what can happen.
“We took some steps last year and as I told some people during the off-season that last fall was a long spring ball for us,” said Allen. “It gave us a chance to teach our basic offense and to change things on defense like how to run to the football, how to practice and most importantly how to compete again. I think we learned a lot last season. We have been able to go through the off-season, working hard to put everything together. There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to win some games this year. When that happens, who knows what will follow. We are really looking forward to the 2012 season.”
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