Story Links

Final Open Practice is Saturday
Cavalier fans have their final opportunity to watch preseason practice on Saturday. Practice that day is scheduled to start at 8:35 AM at the fields located behind the McCue Center.

Gaining from Experience
Senior offensive lineman Zak Stair has played up and down the line throughout his career, highlighted by seven starts at left tackle two years ago. As the most oldest non-starter on the line, he has been moved to left guard, due in part to his experience and the benefit gained from the past.

“I was having a conversation with one of the veteran players the other day,” head coach Al Groh said, “and he was telling me, coach, you can’t underestimate what a difference it means to me to have played in games.’”

The confidence gained from being on the field in a game is one of the factors Groh considered when installing Stair at the new position.

“You can get all the practice turns that there are,” he said, “but once a player has been in the game and done it in those circumstances … the player’s got confidence, he’s got more poise, he’s got better presence on the field. It’s probably all intertwined.

“I talked to a couple of other guys about it (and I asked), hey, how did this apply to your circumstances?,’ and they were all the same wayyou can’t underestimate what a difference it makes.

“Obviously, Zak being a fifth-year player, having been in games, we would certainly hope that that would be the case in his circumstances.”

Senior Linebackers this Year, Youngsters Next
Training camp, obviously, is a time for everyone to get in game shape and refine the skills necessary to help the team be successful.

While some might think that the veteran players need to concentrate primarily on staying healthy, this isn’t the case with the Cavaliers’ trio of senior starting linebackersAntonio Appleby, Jon Copper and Clint Sintim, who have started 89 games between them. There are still plenty of reasons to learn as they prepare for their final season.

“We’re not making any accommodations to the fact that the linebackers are veterans,” Groh said. “One of the things that we believe in is that you build on your strengths and they’re a strength of our team.

“If we look to another area and we haven’t paid proper diligence to our strength then all of a sudden our strength isn’t a strength anymore.

“Those players who have shown that they should be our most productive players, we’re going to make sure that we do everything to make sure that we get those guys on top of their games.”

Knowing that these three are graduating this year and unlikely to be back in 2009 barring unforeseen circumstances, Groh and his defensive staff are busy grooming the next generation of linebackers in the “next man up” philosophy.

“We’ve got some others working in there,” said Groh. “Darren Childs is having a good camp, the best he’s had. He’s progressing into the picture. A couple of those younger guys are picking it up pretty quickly. We would like to add to their involvement in the latter half of … training camp.

“While we are focused on the immediacy, we would like to be able to look into the future and see it be a little clearer than what it is now.”

Print Friendly Version