Aug. 11, 2009
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Real football? Well, not exactly. Real football comes Sept. 5 when the Lobos venture into Texas A&M Aggie country. But Tuesday's step-up into full pads did give the Lobos a chance to pound on each other for a couple of hot hours in the New Mexico sun.
"It's the first day of fun," said senior guard Joshua Taufalele. "You have guys to hit and guys to hit you."
You might say the Lobos went to Oklahoma to get their fun on Tuesday.
"The Oklahoma drill is fun," said Lobo senior center Erik Cook. "It's a fun drill because that's when you get to see the men come out. That's when you get to hit. It's all-out go to see who can beat who."
The Oklahoma drill places a defensive lineman across from an offensive lineman. A quarterback hands the football off to a running back, who looks for the O-lineman to create a seam within a small area of turf. The D-lineman tries to erase that seam and erase the running back.
As much as anything, it's a drill of desire, aggression and energy - a chance to do some serious hitting.
"It's one man against another. Nobody else," said Taufalele. "You can't say that somebody helped you or somebody helped the other guy. If you lose, you lose on your own. If you win, you win on your own. I think I only lost one. I'll do better."
Lobo Coach Mike Locksley actually is hoping a lot of Lobos do better on Wednesday. There was a lot of energy and passion shown during Tuesday's Oklahoma drill, but the Lobo showing most of that excitement was the Lobos' head coach.
Locksley bounced from station to station trying to ignite his Lobos to a high level of intensity. He wasn't exactly happy with the level his players reached.
"You have a chance to hit the guy in front of you, a chance to come out and compete," said Locksley. "It was the first day we came out and did some live contact stuff and I would think that if you are a football player, you would find the energy to come out and compete.
"I didn't see the tempo that I would like to see. We need to get that stuff fixed. We need to bring emotion and energy to the field every time we come out. We need to practice at a high level in order to play at a high level."
A few of the Oklahoma drills did produce some focused and ornery Lobos. Cook won all five of his battles with the D-line. Taufalele only lost one time. Cook said the switch to full pads isn't that big of a shift for an O-lineman.
"For an offensive lineman, full pads is pretty much the same as shells (shoulder pads and shorts)," said Cook. "The only thing we don't do in shells is cutting and bringing guys to the ground. I think it's the same tempo."
"It's the first day of fun. You have guys to hit and guys to hit you."
Senior guard Joshua Taufalele.
In full pads, the Lobos look bigger, meaner - hotter. Cook says that's not necessarily so. "I like it better in pants and full pads," he said. "The pants are tighter. I don't feel any hotter. I feel sleek."
The shift to full pads allows football players to dig deeper into the violent aspect of their game - to get physical. "You can't do the Oklahoma without full pads," said a smiling Taufalele.
But that physical stuff doesn't usually carry over to the quarterbacks.
"We don't get hit that much," said senior quarterback Donovan Porterie. "But sometimes you notice guys in pads for the first time will tire quicker or maybe lose focus. One of our jobs is to motivate and get guys focused and playing fast.
"But football is a physical sport for quarterbacks, too. We didn't go live in the Oklahoma drill, but we'll be in the fire at some point, so just be watching for it. We know we'll get hit sometime before camp is over."