We take a moment during each of the Final 49 weeks until Kickoff 2013 to look at various aspects of the Charlotte 49ers football program.


Light That Fire

Aug. 5, 2013

By Tom

Saturday morning practce.  Just Day 3 of preseason workouts.

The pads went on.  The intensity went up. 

Game day was only 28 days away.

“Too much talking, not enough doing” a coach yelled.

It wasn’t full pads – just shoulders after a couple days of helmets.

But there was still pounding.

Lineman going at lineman in O-Line coach Phil Ratliff’s “Winner’s Circle”.  Take the challenge.  Step up. One-on-one.  Man-to-man.  

So, who won?

In Ratliff’s world, they all did. 

 “You guys are competing today!" he fires out.  "Everyday.  Compete.”

The O-line is a source of pride for the team. Head coach Brad Lambert set out to build the team from the inside-out, with a focus on the offensive and defensive lines.

So while we have heard a lot about the playmakers, they love to talk about the linemen.

We love the breakaway run and the long bomb.  They love the guys who make it possible.

Remember guys like Blitch and Sledge and La Bianca and Book and Covington – the ones who opened that hole or protected that pass.

When the O-Line had a barbecue, it’s no accident that some folks like QB Matt Johnson and SR Austin Duke were there to show their appreciation as well.  They understand the importance of that group.

At Saturday’s practice, the O-Line circled around each other – with two players battling each other in the middle. 

They encouraged each other.  They pushed and pushed back.  And, as Ratliff noted, they competed.

Moments later it was back to the blocking sled.

Back to mechanics and footwork and technique. 

But that period in the Winner’s Circle, going head-to-head, gave them a chance to go against another body, to fight to the end, to light that competitive fire. 

It gave them a chance to win a battle, to lose a battle and to get back up and go at it again.

Just like on those Saturdays that are right around the corner.