Teams Utilize Team Camp To Develop Linemen

Posted: August 1, 2014 at 9:53 a.m.

Farmington running back Justice Hobbs caries the ball during 7-on-7 scrimmages at a team camp hosted by Gravette in Lions Stadium on Monday, July 28, 2014.

— Justice Hobbs zipped through the line and hit the secondary with a burst of speed.

On Monday, Hobbs and the Farmington Cardinals continued to work on their offensive sets in preparation for the rapidly approaching season, but the setting wasn’t a summer 7-on-7 tournament.

Instead, the Cardinals, Pea Ridge and host Gravette were competing in a team camp, which featured a little of the 7-on-7 passing drills, and a lot of the 11-on-11 team camp drills.

Coaches of all three schools said while 7-on-7 passing leagues were beneficial in some regards, the team camp offered more work for more players, specifically the offensive and defensive linemen.

“I believe there are benefits to both,” Pea Ridge coach Tony Travis said. “I think team camps are more beneficial because it’s 11-on-11 and you can involve the linemen. We did a lot more team camps this year for that very reason, to get our linemen involved.”

Even though players were limited to just helmets and shoulder pads, there was enough physical contact to see how the linemen are progressing in picking up blocking schemes, Farmington coach Mike Adams said.

Adams, whose team is moving from Class 4A to 5A this season, opted to participate in more team camps this summer than 7-on-7.

“We found a lot out about where we stand with our linemen in the last two weeks,” Adams said. “It gives us a head start going into two-a-days.

“Really, the only advantage to 7-on-7 is that you get more reps for your passing game. To us, team camps are more valuable because you get your linemen involved. You have shoulder pads and helmets on, so it’s more like real football.”

Monday’s session was split onto several segments. The first segment was 7-on-7 passing drills, as linemen stretched. Later on, the linemen participated in one-on-one drills before the session ended with 11-on-11 scrimmage minus the full pads.

Gravette coach Bill Harrelson agreed that allowing the linemen to participate in team drills is an aspect his program needs as the season draws closer.

“That’s the biggest difference, getting to work with the linemen,” Harrelson said. “That was our goal going to this was being able to work with our linemen, being able to work with the center and running backs in a run situation. You can get your blocking rules in, your stunts in and things like that.”

Travis said he likes both 7-on-7 and team camps, but agreed that team camps for his program are more beneficial.

The Blackhawks are a run-oriented offense that often lines up in ‘I’ formation. Working exclusively on passing does not help the team in run blocking and execution, he said.

“It’s more realistic to us like a Friday night,” Travis said. “I think there are some awesome aspects to 7-on-7, but too much 7-on-7, I think can create some bad habits.

“In 7-on-7, the scariest thing that can happen to the quarterback is that whistle blowing after four seconds. No one is rushing him like on Friday night. It’s a different feeling for a quarterback.”

Travis said in addition to the benefits to the linemen, the linebackers also benefit from team camps as opposed to strictly 7-on-7.

“In a team camp, they are going to get a downhill step on the snap,” Travis said. “But in 7-on-7, they get so caught up in stepping back into coverage it creates a bad habit once the games start because they are used to taking a step back when the ball is snapped.”

Monday’s team camp was the final session for all three teams with official practice starting on Monday.

Harrelson said the sessions have helped his team see where they are doing well, and where they need to continue to work

“We’ve done three team camps and it’s been real beneficial to us,” he said. “We have a lot of young linemen and this has helped us develop them.”