August 16, 2012: Coaches’ voices pierce the Tonto National Forest
PAYSON — First, there’s the horn, signaling the end of that particular period of work. Then comes the air horn, followed by a voice through a megaphone directing the players where to go next.
There’s also the occasional whistle.
But it’s the coaches who make the most noise. Every one of them. Without the aid of a device.
This is head coach Todd Graham’s mantra.
It fits his desire for a high-octane offense. But he wants all of his players—the defense and special teams as well, to adhere to sprinting both on and off the field.
Another one of Graham’s favorites.
As much as he talks about protecting the football, not committing a penalty may come in a close second.
“We’re working on that,” he said of limiting their penalties. “I think you get what you emphasize.”
This one belongs to offensive coordinator Mike Norvell.
“It’s for our tempo,” he said. “I try to establish the tempo of each play. We want to push it. We want to snap the ball as fast as we can.”
How many snaps does he believe the offense should run each game?
“With our offense being able to run the football, being able to take shots down field, if we can get 80-85 snaps a game, keep the defense to 60-65, we know we’re doing our job and we’re getting more opportunities to be successful.”
Graham came away pleased with the lone practice at Camp Tontozona Thursday.
“I was kind of moving around, trying to find something to correct,” he said. “We’re getting better at having a workman’s mentality.
The highlight of the day came during 11-on-11.
With the ball resting at the one yard line, quarterback Taylor Kelly dropped back and from his own end zone fired a pass up the left side where Rashad Ross ran under it, caught it without breaking stride and sprinted past cornerback Deveron Carr for a 99-yard touchdown.
“We got to push the ball vertical,” Graham said while also praising Ross for a second straight day.
With just the one practice, players — by position — will climb Mount Kush Thursday afternoon. They’ll sing the fight song and “put our 2012 flag up there on top of it” according to Graham, who has thoroughly enjoyed his time at Camp T.
“I’d love to report [here] and then be leaving here Saturday,” he said. “I’d love to come up here the whole time. I really think that our kids would get a lot out of it.”