RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas Tech football program has been putting in long hours over the course of summer workouts, and summer drills will wrap up this week with an intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday, August 27. Kickoff from Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field is set for 6 p.m.
The scrimmage will be the last public exhibition for the Wonder Boys, who open their regular season on Thursday, Sept. 5 at Northwestern Oklahoma. The event is free and open to the public.
In the first scrimmage, a 120-play event, head coach Raymond Monica led the Wonder Boys through the paces and has seen his level of confidence in his young team rise.
“I’m very excited about the receiver corps that we have,” said Monica. “I think we go pretty deep at those positions. On the defensive side of the ball, I think we’ve improved the defensive front from last year. We’ve had some guys come in and do a pretty nice job and will do a good job giving us some speed coming off the edge. Our secondary will be young. There are some positions where I don’t know who we’ll have starting on defense. Our offensive line is getting better every day. Luke Halpin is our starter at quarterback right now with Preston (Conder) as his backup. Preston has done some good things for us in practice.”
While Monica was pleased with several facets of the team’s performance through the opening portion of summer drills, the Wonder Boys have been hard at work in the practices since looking to shake off the rust in some other areas. “We need to keep more assignments, and know exactly what we’re supposed to do. We are putting some new things in and throwing a lot of things at the players, especially the young players. Now we have to fine-tune some things where on offense and defense. We had way too many penalties in the scrimmage, but we’ve worked hard on it and I’m sure the next time we go out there we’ll look better. I have our referees call things tight in the scrimmage because I’d rather have those penalties now than in a game. Hopefully in the game they’ll learn from those mistakes.”
While the Wonder Boys return several veterans, there are 75 players in camp who have yet to play an official down as Wonder Boys and will be looking to make an impact on the 2013 version of the team.
Two of the incoming freshmen who have caught Monica’s eye in summer drills have been Devarius Rice and Traa Strong, both of whom sit atop the depth chart at the moment. “They have both come in and done a good job,” said Monica. “As freshmen, they’ve really caught my eye.”
While the Wonder Boys have just under two weeks to prepare for their 2013 opener, the team is focused on Tuesday’s scrimmage as an opportunity to measure just how much progress the team has made thus far in summer drills and what the coaching staff’s priorities will be entering regular-season practice.
“I’d like to thank the campus community and student services staff for everything they’ve done to make this scrimmage a big event,” said Monica. “I think we’re going to have a great event, and looking forward to helping welcome the students back to campus.”