It must be nice to lie around during the middle of the season and do absolutely nothing – no meetings, no practice, no hitting.
That’s the impression some may have of a football team with a bye week. The reality is the “off” week is filled with activity – at least that’s the way it is with Riverside Academy this week.
“What we tried to do was provide a specific purpose in each day this week. Kids are kids. It would be great if they were all excited about going to practice as a coach would every day but the matter of fact is that when there is no game on Friday, it makes it a little more of a chore to go to practice,” Riverside coach Chris Lachney said.
The Rebels’ most recent game was a loss to Rummel on Saturday, so that provided another bit of change in the normal routine.
“We played on Saturday last week so it kind of put us behind. Monday, our purpose was to identify and correct the mistakes that were made in the Rummel game. We didn’t go out to practice at all, we just watched film,” said Lachney.
After the coaching staff did a bit of self-scouting on Sunday, Tuesday was a day to relate those findings to the team.
“It’s not just about identifying plays that worked or finding tendencies about yourself – although there is some of that – it’s more about what techniques and fundamentals are our kids struggling with and what techniques and fundamentals our kids are doing well. What kind of return on investment are we getting on certain minutes we spend on minutes every day? We kind of organized that a little bit better as a staff and talked about game-day procedure. A lot of stuff you never get to stop and take a breath during a football season and kind of reorganize yourself,” Lachney explained.
Wednesday, the Rebels reviewed all third-down plays from the Rummel game and analyzed third-down efficiency from both an offensive and defensive standpoint through the first three weeks of the season.
Today’s practice will allow for a bit of a head start against the Rebels’ next opponent – De La Salle. That takes the Rebels to a day of game simulation on Friday.
“Friday, we will condition them just like we would if there was a game. We will try to simulate as much of that football game as we can on Friday,” said Lachney.
A bye week is nothing new for Riverside. The Rebels have had an open week each of the previous two seasons – and found out that no specific approach is perfect.
“The first year, we really hit them hard and we really took them out that week and the philosophy of, ‘hey, you don’t have a game, you have time to heal if you do get a bump or a bruise.’ We didn’t have a very good result coming out of that bye week, so we changed it. The second year, we took way more of a NFL practice type of approach to it. We took the pads off and really didn’t hit each other a whole bunch. It was a bunch of walk-throughs and we didn’t like that result, either,” said Lachney, who was an assistant under Bill Stubbs those two years.
So, the Rebels are trying a hybrid approach this time.
“This being the third year with our experience with byes, we took kind of a mixed approach,” said Lachney. “The self-evaluation practice was very physical. We went out and had one of our most physical practices since camp.
“Installation day of the game plan against De La Salle will be a little bit taken back a little bit. We won’t have pads on. We will still practice fast but not as physically as we did on Tuesday. Friday, we will run them to simulate the game as much as we can.”
The Rebels are 1-2 on the year, having opened the season with physical games against Southern Lab, Barbe and Rummel – the last two games being losses. In a midseason report of sorts, Lachney said he has been struck most by the unselfish nature of his football team.
“What I’m the most proud of and what I think will pay the biggest dividend for us later on when it counts the most is that ‘next man up’ mentality we’ve had,” the Riverside coach said. “Guys like Jacob Mullins, who at 165 pounds, is playing defensive tackle against Archbishop Rummel. We didn’t have a great night defensively, but we made enough stops to give ourselves a chance to win it in the end and he was a big part of that.”
“Guys like Louis Cheneau,” continued Lachney, “who has been a jack of all trades for us ever since last spring. He’s a reserve running back and is a very good one – but we just happen to have Jeremy Gibson, who’s really good. We moved him to linebacker and started letting him learn a little bit linebacker over the summer and he did a great job of that. Jeremy kinds of gets dinged up a little bit and we have to put him back on offense. He played a big part, not only in our game against Barbe, but against Rummel as well. Now, we find ourselves with another injury that will bump him back to defense because Jeremy is looking healthy. A guy like him is worth his weight in gold. He’s like having two players on this team. There are not that many kids who are that unselfish.”
A victim of their own success when it comes to finding opponents willing to play them, the Rebels have another open date in Week 10. The approach to that week will be a will be a wait-and-see situation, according to Lachney.
“If we are in the very same situation from an injury standpoint and a health standpoint, yeah, I think I would like to take the same approach as this week. But who knows what Week 10 will look like. We may be 100 percent healthy or we may look like a MASH unit,” the Riverside coach said.