“I think it goes back to team chemistry,” the second-year Jaguars head coach said Wednesday. “We talked about it yesterday. We’ve got to develop some leadership on this team.”
Spalding’s coaching staff will closely be combing the field on each play, looking for that very trait to emerge.
“Our kids work hard, but when they are out there by themselves who is going to stand out and take charge on offense, defense and special teams? Who is going to put the them on their back and get us going in the right direction from a motivation standpoint, playing had and almost being a coach on the field?”
Davis sees it as critical to the team’s success as it tries to reverse its fortunes from a 2-8 season a year ago.
“That’s something we’re lacking right now and we’re definitely going to have to establish if we are going to turn things around,” he added.
To Davis, it doesn’t really matter where the leaders come from.
“A lot of times you want your seniors to be the leaders — they’ve been around the longest — but like I shared with them: I was team captain my junior and senior years (at Griffin High) and again at Georgia Southern the same thing,” said Davis.
A number of players have gained the praises of their coach for the leadership they have shown through spring, summer and preseason practice.
“The Trae Moran kid, who we’re working out at quarterback, has really done an outstanding job not only preparing himself but also calling guys and having them show up on the weekends to practice throwing, catching and running routes,” said Davis. “Jake Jeffcoat, Jay Westbury and Jevaris Jones all do what’s asked of them, but if I had to pick one kid who’s beginning to take that role it would be Larry McCord.”
The senior linebacker, who didn’t play last year as a junior because of a bout with migraines, is back this year.
“We got him back in the fold, explained our expectations of him and he has accepted that role and he’s beginning to get more comfortable being more of a leader,” said Davis. “He’s one of the alpha dogs we have in our program, so we need him to be vocal and lead by example in the right direction.”
Beside leadership, Davis and his staff will be watching for a handful of other things. Chief amongst them is discipline.
“We don’t want to see a bunch of mistakes,” said Davis. “I don’t want to see us turning the ball over and kids going out there and doing their own thing instead of what they are coached to do — we want to see a disciplined football team.”
Kickoff against the Brad Webber-coached Pirates (5-5) is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $6.
Starters are scheduled to play the first three quarters, with backups and reserves getting in throughout the fourth quarter.
“Hopefully we can see some of our younger kids step up, so we can feel comfortable about inserting them in there on offense, defense or special teams,” said Davis. “And the kids we count on we want to see play dominant on Friday night.”
However, don’t expect any heroics in the return game. The rush will be live on kicks and punts, but the returns won’t be.
“The biggest thing is walking away with no injuries,” said Davis, whose team opens the regular season Aug. 31 at home against Lamar County.