Quarterback Taylor Lamb admitted that things are moving slowly for Appalachian State’s offense.
Such is life when the leading receiver available for spring football practice is tight end Barrett Burns, who caught 15 passes for 163 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
“It’s a little slow out here, trying to get some guys in the right spots on the perimeter,” said Lamb, whose Mountaineers began practice a week ago. “I’m trying to get back in it, and trying to get our line working well.”
In all, the Mountaineers lost four receivers – Bobo Beathard, Malachi Jones, Simms McElfresh and Montez McGuire – to graduation, who were responsible for 85 receptions for 1,319 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“It’s just different, because I had four guys I kind of knew what they were going to do … on the choice routes, we knew what they were going to do pre-snap, we were reading the same things,” Lamb said. “Getting on the same page with those guys, it won’t be done by the end of spring. It’s going to be a lot of work over the summer, but that’s the good thing about – we don’t play games in spring practice.”
Developing a rapport with the new crop of receivers will have to wait, with the absence of three more receivers who are expected to play major roles in the 2016 season, as Jaquil Capel, Ike Lewis and Shaedon Meadors will miss all or part of the Mountaineers’ spring practice.
The trio accounted for another 34 catches for 623 yards and four touchdowns.
“It’s still good for Taylor to get in a pocket, work the pocket and make throws on time, all those things are good for him,” said Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield of the junior quarterback. “Just the leadership for him, those things are going to be big.”
That leadership was evident Wednesday night inside the chilly Sofield Family Indoor Practice Facility, as Lamb and the receiving corps stuck around after practice to work on perfecting what he called a “simple” route they hadn’t yet mastered.
Attention to detail now, he said, is important so the Mountaineers can focus on the bigger picture in August.
“Just getting that right, getting little things right and getting these guys right by the end of the spring,” he said. “Then, you’ve got four months before fall camp starts, so its’ a long process.”
It’s a stark contrast to last year’s spring practices, with 20 starters returning for Appalachian State’s maiden voyage in the Sun Belt.
“Last year, we had guys coming back everywhere, so just that kind of trust you have to have in your guys, we’re building that,” Lamb said.
Lamb is one of a few veterans who aren’t getting much of a break throughout the spring. At certain positions, like linebacker, the emphasis is on getting younger players repetitions.
John Law, who will be a fifth-year senior, isn’t putting up a fight over the respite.
“I appreciate the break a little bit, getting my legs a little bit of a rest,” he said. “It’s good to help the young guys and see them come along. There’s a lot of young guys we’re going to be counting on to play a lot this season, some guys that are gong to be playing some key roles. It’s good to help them out and see what’s going on.”
Overall, he thinks coaches have taken the right approach. Last season, he felt like he and his teammates needed the extra work.
“We had a lot more to prove and we had a lot more learning to do,” Law said. “As far as a defense as a whole, we had to mesh together. Now, our defense has been together for two years now – going on three – so we know each other pretty well. It’s just getting in seeing what other people are going to do against us. We pretty much know the base of the defense, know our responsibilities and it’s just teaching others.”
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