The Central Alberta Buccaneers Spring Camp wrapped up with a intrasquad game, but due to fluctuating numbers the gameplan going forward is fluid.
“I am seeing some timing issues, numbers issues and I am seeing new faces for the first time today,” new nead coach Gary LaGrange said. “They had to get up to speed. We have done all of our installs and the guys are excited to get to the entire playbook, but I am not going to give it to them.
“I am going to tell them that we have our seven, eight plays installed — lets get silky-smooth on them.”
LaGrange is hopeful for the season due the veteran heavy presence at camp so far.
“They have all played a bit of football and they will pick it up quick if they are here,” he said. “It is the timing that’s causing issues and the defence is a bit ahead of the offence right now.
“They are putting in their blitz packages and there is some confusion not just on the o-line, but the backs too. There is a lot of broken pass plays, bad snaps and some panicked feet from the quarterback not used to the pressure.”
LaGrange said team success will be contingent on the Bucs getting guys out.
“I can’t coach 20 guys with 11 of them being on offence. They have to get numbers out and they have to be committed to coming. We won’t be able to move forward unless we get guys out,” he said.
One of the main weaknesses in last year’s Bucs team was a lack of running game — something LaGrange hopes to remedy.
“We added a couple wrinkles today and they went really well. The guys are still struggling with zone blocking, but I think we made headway today. With our scrimmage, it was nice to have it at that pace. It wasn’t just go, go, go. We were able to reset and figure out where to go,” he said.
With the status of Brandon Leyh, last year’s starting quarterback, unknown at this time — LaGrange is mixing it up at pivot hoping to find the right answer, but admits that a return by Leyh would help.
“We are missing a stud quarterback — nothing against these guys but if you get a guy that can move and run off the zone read, that helps it go. If you have a pivot that can throw a 60,70-yard ball — that makes a big difference” he said.
Ultimately, the goal is to build a team to rival and defeat the Fort McMurray Monarchs, who have been the toast of the Alberta Football League for several years.
“I asked them if they had a shot of taking it this year and they said, ‘Absolutely. 100 per cent’,” LaGrange said. “That was my main goal going in. I was told they were the team to beat and these guys think they can beat them. I have to believe them because I see some of the athletes. It is a couple key players that will make this go.”