Braves getting ready

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 25, 2005

MURFREESBORO – It’s T-minus nine days and counting.

The Lorick Atkinson era officially opens a week from Saturday when the Braves visit Ashland, Virginia for their season opener at Randolph-Macon College.

Atkinson and his staff officially turned their attention to the Yellow Jackets with this morning’s practice after weeks of evaluating talent.

&uot;We’ll have our final blue-white scrimmage Wednesday night and turn our attention to Randolph-Macon Thursday morning,&uot; Atkinson said in his weekly press gathering Tuesday. &uot;They do a good job. We’ve got our hands full.&uot;

While getting ready for the scrimmage, the first-year skipper said he was extremely pleased with Monday’s practice.

&uot;Our intensity picked up lat night,&uot; Atkinson insisted. &uot;We became a football team. For the first time, I saw good things on both sides of the ball.

&uot;We are getting better,&uot; he continued. &uot;We haven’t had the chance to gauge our progress against anybody, but progress is being made.&uot;

While the Braves are getting ready for their season-opener, Atkinson himself is preparing for his first game as a college head coach. While he is excited about the change, he admits having to get used to the idea.

&uot;I don’t really know what will happen because it’s my first head coaching job,&uot; the rookie coach admitted. &uot;I know my philosophy is to allow my coaches to coach.

&uot;I steer the ship and let them do their thing,&uot; he said. &uot;I hired them and I need to let them do their jobs.&uot;

Atkinson said it was his job to manage the game and let the coaches coach and the players play.

&uot;I’ll be involved in decisions on both sides of the ball,&uot; Atkinson said. &uot;(Offensive Coordinator) David Earp and (Defensive Coordinator) Richard Lage do a good job. I’ll let them do their jobs, but I also know what the headphones are for.

&uot;I am fully aware that it all falls on my shoulders at the end of the day, but I need to let them do their jobs and have faith in them,&uot; he added.

As he heads into the final nine days of practice before the Braves take the field, there are three keys for the coach.

He wants to see the team continue to build their confidence, pick up the tempo and stay healthy.

&uot;This group is hungry,&uot; he said, &uot;but we’re still afraid to make mistakes and you can do that in football.&uot;

As for the tempo, Atkinson said the practice tempos have picked up and he wants them to continue to do so as the next few days continue.

&uot;You win games on Saturday, you don’t win them on Monday,&uot; he said. &uot;Hopefully, next Saturday at 1 p.m. we’ll be ready to explode.&uot;

The Braves injury situation has been good thus far, with only the loss of Scott LaFlair, a freshman receiver, and a few other minor injuries.

The coach added he had appreciated the support provided his squad by the community. He encouraged those in Hertford County, the Roanoke-Chowan area and the Roanoke Valley to continue to support the Braves – football, soccer and all other sports.

&uot;We represent this school and this community,&uot; he said. &uot;Everyone here has been good to me and my family and I want them to continue to come out and support these kids.&uot;

The coach closed by commending his staff for an excellent job thus far.

&uot;I am really proud of my coaches,&uot; he said. &uot;They are doing a great job for us. It’s been fun to watch.&uot;