New season, new attitude: Doughboys hold tryouts, select 50
August 14, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Aug. 13, 2013) -- After two complete seasons with the Fort Benning Doughboys, coach Jason Gibson said both he and the 50 selected to be on this year's team will have a new attitude about the upcoming season -- especially from a coaching perspective.
"I threw a lot of stuff at the guys with no play book, with no class time on purpose to see who could really get a hold of it," Gibson said. "Plus, it has been an honor to be out there and to be there to do something for the Soldiers, but this year I am taking a different approach -- I'm going to treat it like I treat my real job.
"We're going to do it right the first time, or we're going to do it again, and do it again, and do it again and there are no excuses for anything -- just hold everyone accountable for every detail."
When he began tryouts, Gibson said his new approach with practice began with Day 1, and through the three days, that approach translated over into the back end of the practices and dominoed into the comprehension what he and his coaching staff were trying to accomplish.
"This is a smart group -- and I am really excited about the first day of practice," he said.
Gibson said the intelligence showed by how quickly they were picking up on things -- even when he threw them a curve ball.
"I was in the shower the other night thinking 'do I really want to be over there on the sideline yelling out the audibles since we are going to run a no huddle,'" he said. "I thought, if I could just signal -- and I had some ideas -- and what happened in the seven-on-sevens was they were starting to grasp it. So, I said 'whoa, this is just too easy."'
Intelligence on the offensive side of the ball will be paramount to the team's success this year if the new offensive scheme is to be successful.
This year, Gibson will install a run-and-shoot offense. Last year, he said he ran a pro style offense with multiple formations, multiple routes, multiple reads and an in-depth playbook.
He said although the team had some success with that type of offense, it was a difficult offense to grasp for the players with limited practice time, so he decided to run the run-and-shoot offense.
Gibson said the advantage of the run-and-shoot is the lack of mandatory formations, and one less thing to worry about, which allowed him to cut down on total numbers of plays, but with just as many combinations.
"We're going to spend the first couple of days of practice in the classroom," he said. "Now that they have ran some of it (in tryouts) and haven't seen anything on paper, I'm going to come in with a playbook and draw it up with what we are trying to do and say 'here is the playbook, learn it, know it and live it."
While Gibson selected 50 players for this year's squad, he will only dress 40 for each game, although some from the "reserves" may see playing time during the season.
"I won't have them hit right away," he said. " You have to teach them how to hit … some of these guys haven't had pads since high school and you don't want them out there trying to kill each other.
"Something I am really aware of, and conscience of, is the way I am going to practice this year … practice, but practice to save their bodies. I can't afford to have these guys hurt. They have their jobs, they have wives and they have Families."
Gibson said it is important for his team to learn how to practice to avoid injuries and drew a correlation to how professional teams practice at full speed while mostly eliminating serious injuries.
"There is an art (to practicing) … our guys don't know how to practice," he said. "Professional teams practice full force and never hit the ground … these guys haven't had that much training in football. They're just going to go and try and kill each other and not use proper techniques and are going to hurt arms, elbows, shoulders, knees, and I can't afford that.
"So, we need to teach proper techniques -- teach how to tackle without tackling, without beating each other up and keeping them fresh for the game. That's a task I have to figure out in the next week and a half of how I am going to do that."
Gibson's outlook on what he wants to accomplish this year?
"I've got a picture on my wall," he said. "It's of the 1962 undefeated Doughboy team. I see it every day I walk into my office. I want a picture up there that says 'The 2013 undefeated Doughboy football team.' That's my goal -- I want (our) picture up there, I want to be one of those guys."
One player who will be expected to help Gibson achieve that goal is Doughboy veteran and last year's team captain, Mario Johnson.
Johnson, a native of Atlanta assigned to Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, has played with the team since it was first formed, said this year's team will be a stronger team than last year on both offense and defense.
"Just from the tryouts, we are gelling faster than we did last year," he said. "Last year, it took us a couple of games before we were all on the same sheet of music." Johnson said the team appeared to better, strength-wise and will be able to match up better with other teams.
Although Gibson said the team will look to run first in the run-and-shoot, as a wide receiver Johnson said he wants to be the "go-to guy" when a play needs to be made.
"I will play any position," he said. "As long as I can get the ball in my hands."
Johnson said in addition to being bigger and stronger than last year, he already sees a more disciplined team and will be focused more on winning, which he attributed to Gibson's approach this year.
"I respect Coach Gibson a lot," he said. "He's bringing a lot more enthusiasm than last year. He's a professional coach, and I have learned a lot (from him). There's always something new you can learn. He has taught me to play harder and smarter."
Johnson, who said this will be his last year with the team due to an upcoming permanent change of station, said his goal is the same as Gibson's.
"We are all committed to winning ball games … I am in my final year before PCSing, so I want to go out a winner, and I want to be a winner, as well," he said. "My goal is to go 8-0."
One first-year player, Matthew Glidden, a native of Roxboro, N.C., with the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, said he hasn't played on a tackle football team since he was an offensive tackle and tight end in high school and views making the team as an opportunity and a challenge.
"I missed the game," he said. "I love the game and thought I would give it a shot. I think the challenges will be getting back in the swing of things and focusing on offensive line stuff like keeping a lower base … just normal offensive line stuff. It's going to be tough getting back in to it."
Glidden said aside from having fun and being able to "knock someone on their rear end," was the ability to be part of a team again.
"This is great … the team cohesion … everyone is out here for the same reason, they love football," he said.
In drawing an analogy, Glidden said everyone joins the Army for a different reason, but at tryouts everyone came out for one reason -- they love the game of football.
With three days of tryouts under their belts, and the team selected, Gibson said the team will suit up Aug. 19 and begin its first practice Aug. 20.