Ohio learning system quickly

BETHANY – There’s a cliche that says, ‘practice makes perfect.’

The Ohio and West Virginia all-star teams have been getting after it for two days in the heat at Bethany College preparing for Sunday’s 69th annual Rudy Mumley OVAC All-Star Football Game at Wheeling Island Stadium.

Ohio head coach Jose Davis, who is a rookie in coaching the game, spent many hours prior to arriving at camp trying to develop a practice plan to get as much done as possible in a short amount of time.

The teams receive only seven practice days, but there are activities and events to attend as well as the majority of the players haven’t played in a football game since early November, so the coaches must find a happy medium.

The Buckeye State players have hit the practice field hard early in the morning before the temperatures become too unbearable. They’ve gone out light in the afternoon in more of teaching sessions.

Davis has been pleased with how well his players have grasped his up-tempo, five-wide attack.

“So far, so good,” Davis said. “There hasn’t been very many times where we’ve had to stop because a guy didn’t know his assignment.”

Obviously, the offense is simplified to a degree, if for no other reason, because of the time issues and all three facets of the game must be worked on.

Davis and his staff spent much of Sunday’s practice introducing the system.

“We threw the entire kitchen sink at them and I wanted to see how much they could retain,” Davis said. “When they came back out (on Monday), they got it. And that told me that they went back in their rooms, before they went to sleep, and at least looked at it again.”

That’s the approach one expects from ‘all-star’ players, many of whom are continuing their careers at the next level in the coming weeks.

But, some players are asked to switch a position for the good of the team and putting aside an ego is an additional adjustment that often times needs to be made prior to an all-star game.

“Everyone who is here was probably a superstar where they played,” Davis said. “My thing, too, was ‘how are these guys going to handle being, in essense, not a superstar in trying to fit into what we’re trying to get done?”

So far, the Ohio on the front of the jersey has been the difference.

“It’s a personality thing and we’ve monitored body languages and done our best to keep everyone active,” Davis said.

Helping to ease the transition is the fact that Davis has three former players – Kenny Hess, Wyatt Back and Brendon Ross – on the team.

“Having those guys is big because they’re able to help the other guys because we do some complex things,” Davis said. “Obviously, that’s helped to make things much smoother for us.”

Back will be lining up on the offensive line and has evolved into the leader of the group because of his familiarity with the blocking schemes.

“Playing with the same scheme has made it easier and allowed me the chance to teach the other linemen, rather than being just another guy trying to learn the plays,” Back said. “I was surprised with how quickly the linemen understood and plays and blocking schemes even after just a few practices. I remember when I first tried to learn these plays, my head was ready to explode, but I was a freshman, too.”

The practices continue today for both states. They’ll leave Bethany for the first time this evening and trek to Wheeling Park’s White Palace for the annual George Strager Evening With the Stars.