Southern preps for spring game


Willie Brown / The Chart

The Missouri Southern football team runs offense vs. defense drills in preparation for their spring game tomorrow.

Rarely would a glorified scrimmage be looked forward to as the Missouri Southern football Lions’ first spring game tomorrow.

After a 3-7 season in 2009, Head Coach Bart Tatum believes his 2010 squad will be much better.

“I see a lot of improvement in all phases of our game,” he said. “Which we need, there’s a little bit more maturity out there, our leadership is a little bit stronger because we’re a year older. We didn’t lose a ton of seniors, from those standpoints we’re better and we’re building on some things that happened a year ago.”

Tatum specifically praised his team for the way they battled through adversity last season, saying they played hard in every game, even through decimating injuries across the roster and other hardships. 

“A good man will shut down sometimes when it gets as tough as it was a year ago and they did not do that, they did not shut it down, they kept coming, they kept giving it their best effort. “

Tomorrow, the Lions have their first game of the spring. While all healthy starters will be playing in the game, Tatum insists it is more of a practice.

While this time of year is technically the offseason, Tatum, his staff and even players are putting in many hours every day.

Tatum said he and his assistant coaches are in the office by 6 a.m. on a typical practice day in the spring, watching film and preparing plans for the day, with certain groups of players in meetings by 7 a.m.

Then, the coaches reconvene at 8 a.m. to discuss practice structure and procedure for the day.

Southern’s players have weightlifting groups at 6 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., and players typically drift in and out of the office to study film on their own time based on when their other responsibilities fall.

“Around 3 o’clock we’ll have kicking game meetings,” Tatum said. “So whatever kicking game, we practice two kicking games each practice in the spring. Whether it’s punt, punt block, kickoff, kickoff return, two of those four units will have a meeting, they’ll review tape, review film, they’ll talk about ‘Hey here’s what we’re going to do today out on the field’ and do that type of meeting with that personnel that’s involved with that phase.”

More meetings between players and coaches precede the typical 4 p.m. practice start time, which runs about two hours on an average day.

For the players, their physical commitments are over at that point, with only required study halls four nights a week remaining.

After practice, the coaching staff returns to review the film for the night before finally heading home to start the whole process over in the morning.