Getting to work: Apollos back at it after a day off
By Tom Alexander, Orlando Apollos Team Reporter
SAN ANTONIO — It’s time to grind. The Orlando Apollos resumed training camp practices Monday in San Antonio. While Saturday’s practice was sharp, the players somehow looked more crisp and focused after having a day off Sunday. Both the offense and defense appear to be coming together, and Apollos Head Coach Steve Spurrier noted after practice that he saw improvement in several players just from the first practice to this one.
Here are the three key takeaways from the Monday morning session:
1. The Apollos are focused
All 75 players got off the buses at the University of the Incarnate Word this morning looking loose, focused and ready to get to work. Drills looked crisp, and The Apollos look ready to get after it.
2. Practicing for an audience
There were several college coaches visiting and observing practice today, most of whom are in San Antonio for the American Football Coaches Association’s annual convention. Former University of Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops, his brother, University of Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops, and Washington State University Assistant Coach Steve Spurrier, Jr. were among them. It was a reunion of sorts for the two families — Spurrier’s father, Steve Sr., is of course The Apollos head coach, and his brother, Scott, is The Apollos tight ends coach. Bob Stoops was an assistant coach on the elder Spurrier’s staff at the University of Florida in the late 1990s.
Bob Stoops spoke to the team before practice. He encouraged the players to work hard and respect each other in order to come together as a team, saying, “If you’re going to be out here, you might as well win.”
3. Offensive athleticism
The Apollos have fast and athletic wide receivers, several of whom made some spectacular catches during one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills. Wide receiver Louis Murphy, Jr. made a tough catch on a contested ball when working against cornerback Brandon Dixon. Receiver Willie Quinn showed off his agility, putting an impressive move on cornerback Bryce Canady to get free for a catch.
The receivers weren’t the only ones showing off their athleticism today. Quarterback Kevin Anderson capped off practice with a 10-yard scramble and a penguin-style slide into the end zone for a touchdown. Anderson looked sharp through most of the morning’s drills, making some very accurate deep throws and locating his passes effectively.
As for the defense, there was no shortage of big plays there. Cornerback D’Joun Smith swatted a sure catch out of Quinn’s hands during one-on-ones, ruining a beautiful sideline throw from Anderson.
The team had a walkthrough scheduled for Monday afternoon, but the schedule changed following the morning session. Training camp continues throughout January in San Antonio as The Apollos prepare for their season opener on Saturday, February 9, when they host the Atlanta Legends at Spectrum Stadium on the UCF campus. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS. Get your tickets now: http://bit.ly/ApollosTix