New Mavs coach Martin preaches finishing at practice

New Mavs coach Martin preaches finishing at practice

Colorado Mesa University head coach Russ Martin, left, watches as quarterback Steve Romero hands the ball off to running back Jake Cimiolino during practice at Stocker Stadium Wednesday.

Colorado Mesa University defensive coordinator Todd Auer, center, offers advice to one of his players Wednesday during practice at Stocker Stadium.

On the first day of spring football practice, new Colorado Mesa University football coach Russ Martin was already talking about finishing.

The Mavericks opened practice Wednesday afternoon where they play — at Stocker Stadium.

“One of the things we’ve talked about as coaches is learning to finish,” Martin said. “We had coaches on both sides trying to get linemen to finish following a play and get downfield.

“For the receivers, running backs or quarterbacks, regardless, if you fall down or someone stops you, you get down the field and finish. For the defense, it’s not OK to stand and watch, you get to the ball.

“We’re trying to emphasize to them you don’t score points unless you finish a drive.”

Spring practice will continue the next three weeks, concluding with the spring game at 10 a.m. on April 14 at Stocker Stadium.

Some players left the program, but the majority stayed through the coaching change.

They seemed excited to start playing for Martin and his staff, which includes former Chadron State College head coach Bill O’Boyle and his former defensive coordinator, Todd Auer. O’Boyle is the Mavs’ offensive coordinator and Auer is running the defense.

Ben Martin, Phil Vigil, Phil Johnston, Donnie Holmes and Seth Damron round out the staff.

“We’ve been real excited to get out here doing football stuff,” senior receiver Robert Felberg said. “We’ve been working out and lifting all (semester). We’ve been working probably harder than we’ve ever worked so far, I’d say.”

The past few weeks the players have been on the field at 6 a.m. each day doing drills.

“It’s pretty tough,” Felberg said. “(Some) quit and that’s fine. Only the strong survive and that’s who’s around now.”

Felberg came to Mesa five years ago as a quarterback, but has moved to receiver the past two years.

He won’t likely change positions again, but could run more slot routes in Martin’s spread offense.

“It’s a lot more complex,” quarterback Steve Romero said. “I really like it. Everything has more than one option. It seems to flow. We seem to be working together as an offense. I think everyone likes it. It’s like we’re on a train right now and rolling.”

Chris Henderson, Michael Mankoff and Jason Haferman also return at quarterback, along with freshman Deke Cisco, who redshirted last fall.

“The good thing is most of them have game time,” Martin said. “Obviously Deke Cisco is the one that didn’t get game time in the past, but he’s an athletic young man. We give them a lot of responsibility. They make the protection calls at the line of scrimmage.

“Today there were a couple interceptions, the receiver was running the wrong route. We know there are going to be mistakes in the early stages, but that’s why we teach off it.”

Junior college transfers Will Harvey and Ian Driskill from Bakersfield (Calif.) Junior College, have enrolled in school and are in camp. They were much-needed additions at linebacker with the graduation of four starters.

Defensive end Domonique Lewis is not participating in spring drills because he has only one semester of eligibility remaining, which he will use in the fall.

Martin didn’t give the Mavericks too many plays to run on the first day.

“There are a lot of things that are smoke and mirrors in our offense,” he said. “Really what we have is about three plays is all. Come Friday, we’ll still only have three plays, but there are a lot of options with three plays.

“Our system is very option-oriented. That doesn’t mean it’s triple option, dive, quarterback pitch. There’s bubble screens involved, quarterback keeps and reads off the defensive end. We can change who we read. That’s what we want them to understand.

“All the options apply and they need to start seeing the big picture, because that’s what is going to tell us what to attack.”


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