After almost three months of work on the practice field, the Stetson football team is winding toward the end of its first fall. The Hatters have three scrimmages remaining, starting with one this Saturday at 2 p.m.
The scrimmage this week will serve as a preview for the Green-White scrimmage on Nov. 3 for homecoming. The Hatters will be divided into two squad, coaches included, for the scrimmage, which will be treated as if it were a true game.
“We want to make the Homecoming week just like it would be if we were playing a home game,” Hatters coach Roger Hughes said. “We’ll do that so next year, when we do play home games, it won’t be such an eye-opening occurrence for the kids.
“We’ll go through all of our normal pre-game warmups each day and then, on Saturday, we’ll play a game.”
The dress rehearsal for the Homecoming game will serve multiple purposes for the Hatters.
“We want to do that a week ahead so that the two teams get a feel for playing with each other,” Hughes said. “We want the offensive lines to be cohesive and we want the quarterbacks and receivers to be cohesive. The other thing we want to do is make sure we have all of the special teams substitutions the way we want them, so we will get all of that practiced.”
Another reason for the rehearsal is to make sure the two teams, which were drafted by the coaches earlier this week, are relatively even.
“As coaches, we have to see if we might need to make some trades to make sure the sides are equal and that people can work together. The main question I have had is does the offensive line need to stay together. Looking at practice today, I don’t think they do, but we will evaluate that after the scrimmage this Saturday.”
Hughes said the last few weeks have been spent working on perfecting the things that have already been installed, both offensively and defensively. The staff has refrained from adding anything new on purpose.
“The whole thing is that we want to have everything ready going into that Homecoming game,” Hugh said. “After Homecoming, we’ll have two weeks to add any new stuff that we want to get in, two weeks to get us headed in the right direction toward spring practice.”
Hughes said he will take a different perspective for the next two scrimmages. Instead of calling plays for the offense, which he will do as offensive coordinator, he’ll take the next two scrimmages to take a broader view of all the action.
“We’ll have two offensive coordinators, two defensive coordinators and I’ll be more the head coach,” Hughes said. “That will give me a different perspective than normal. What happens when you are calling plays is that you are so focused on getting the next play ready you don’t watch how the previous play ends, how guys finish.”
With the first fall for the Hatters in more than 50 years starting to wind down, the focus for the coaches will turn toward individual evaluations.
“We want to start evaluating and making decisions for each individual player, to develop programs for them on what they need to do to get better during the off season,” Hughes said. “We want all of those guys to know what they need to do to come back for spring practice ready to go.”
Hughes said the entire experience this fall has been a positive one for the program, players and coaches.
“This has been a great bunch of kids in a lot of ways,” Hughes said. “First, for the way they have been accountable in the class room. They have been great citizens on campus and great ambassadors around town for us. That wasn’t unexpected, but they have been stellar in that capacity.
“The second thing is that we really haven’t had an issue with keeping guys interested, even with no games. We are trying to do a good job of mixing things up and keeping things competitive, but it also speaks to the character of the kids we have.”
That enthusiasm will be on full display this Saturday in the final scrimmage before Homecoming.