Without a doubt, they’re getting better every day. My whole deal is with changing the culture; we expect it 10 out of 10 times, and that's the only way. I can go in and watch the film and see them executing the calls. We know where we're going, we just have to continue to go consistently and do something when we get there. UAPB head football coach Cedric Thomas
Two weeks into spring football, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Golden Lions are setting a new culture throughout the program. First-year Head Coach Cedric Thomas is optimistic about where they are at this point, as they are further along than he thought they could've been.
With Thomas, at this juncture, it's about everybody doing things the right way all the time in order for them to get the best results possible. For the Golden Lions, there is value in each one of their spring practices, and Thomas is making sure that they gain it.
"I'm very excited about the spring and what we're getting done," Thomas said. "We're ahead of schedule as far as the retention. We still have to be better at being consistent and that's something that I'll continue to preach. When you're changing the culture you got to have it 10 out of 10 times. Seven out of 10 isn't good enough. Overall, after these first couple of weeks, we still have a lot to improve on, but I think we're ahead of schedule."
The Golden Lions held their first scrimmage of the spring this past weekend, and although the weather conditions weren't in their favor, Thomas was pleased with how they performed.
That first scrimmage consisted of things that were good, and Thomas also pointed out the bad. What's encouraging to him is that they were able to get 80 plays in, and the mistakes are fixable.
"The temperature outside was anywhere from 30-40 degrees, and the guys came out ready to work," Thomas said. "We told them don't let the elements get the best of them, and I really thought they responded. They flew around with the weather being as such. There were just too many mistakes, but that's expected in the first scrimmage. We have to have gap integrity on defense, and offensively we have to finish drives. Whether it was penalties or big plays not being completed, that stopped some drives. We made too many mental mistakes, technical errors, and we just have to hone in on cleaning those up. We had big-time referees out, and 80 plays is a lot of plays. They're motivated and positive about where we are, and in the next two weeks we're trying to strive for excellence."
In that type of weather it was a positive to see the guys pumped up, the coach said. And when it came to the guys competing, Thomas was pleased.
"We did a good job of communicating," Thomas said. "As a coaching staff, we're demanding a high level not only IQ-wise but from a technique standpoint. From their pad level being correct to them understanding things schematically, we have to be more consistent in all aspects. We flew around like a big-time college football team should, and that's what you want to see. A lot of guys got a lot of reps. Guys got off of the ball and blocked well. Wide-outs made a few catches, running backs ran well, and the quarterbacks made good decisions at times. We just have to go out to complete our mission every time we hit that football field."
According to Thomas, the guys are becoming more comfortable with the system, and they are grasping the way he wants things done.
"Without a doubt, they’re getting better every day," Thomas said. "My whole deal is with changing the culture; we expect it 10 out of 10 times, and that's the only way. I can go in and watch the film and see them executing the calls. We know where we're going, we just have to continue to go consistently and do something when we get there. The kids are really taking the coaching and soaking it in. The right way is 100 percent, and I believe they're starting to accept that. It's starting to become the norm, and they know what's expected of them."
The Golden Lions will hold their second scrimmage Saturday, and an official start time is to be announced. This time around, Thomas said they'll be working on a lot of situational football, and he expects nothing less than their best.
"We have another scrimmage that will be a big one on Saturday," Thomas said. "It'll be more of a situational deal, for an example we'll line up in 3rd and long sometimes and then we'll go 3rd and short. We'll get out there and strive for excellence. I expect them to come out with a great attitude and be ready to get better. We will cut down the mental mistakes and continue to do things 10 out of 10 times."
The fact that some Golden Lions faithful showed up to their first scrimmage in those elements was exciting for Thomas. It was exciting for the players, too, and Thomas expects an even better turn out this weekend as the weather will be suitable.
"The conditions outside were bad but it was still anywhere from 75 to 100 people out there watching last Saturday," Thomas said. "The weather should be better this Saturday, and we want them to continue to come out. It doesn't go unnoticed, and we want to bridge the gap between the community and the college."