By Monty Campbell

Killeen Daily Herald

COPPERAS COVE – The 2006 Copperas Cove Bulldawgs opened their first day of fall practice two-a-days looking eerily similar to last year's team, which made school history by going deeper than ever in the Texas 5A state playoffs.

Although several key players have since graduated and have begun their collegiate careers, the only difference in the Bulldawgs is their newly purchased practice uniforms. The Dawgs still have their swagger and bring back one of the most talented coaching staffs in the state.

Cove's first practice, although only in shorts, T-shirts and shells, was conducted very precisely by head coach Jack Welch with the assistance of an automated timer that was perched on the side of the coaching platform.

The practice didn't stray from many of the regular practices with special teams taking precedence at the beginning.

The team then split into each players unique positions to receive more individualized attention from the position coaches.

Welch admitted that even though it was the first day of official practice for the team, the team is at more of an advantage than the schools that started football a week ago because of the 18 days that Cove worked out in the spring.

"Right now, we are just making sure we know where to line up and what to do," Welch said. "Last spring was our early season and we are just reviewing now."

At the end of last spring Bulldawg fans wondered who was going to step up and be the heir apparent to Brent Garner at quarterback and if Cove would find enough bodies to replace the linebacking corps and defensive ends.

Replacing the linebacking unit and defensive ends are still in the forefront of everyone's mind, including the coaches, but Welch said that between the time that the spring game ended and the first practice started, the new quarterback was clear.

"Robert Griffin stepped up in the spring and summer and has made great strides in becoming quarterback of this team," Welch said. "The quarterback is just like the coach, he needs to earn and demand the respect from his team and I think Robert has."

The Bulldawgs will continue to practice in shorts and shells until Friday, when they put the pads on for the first time. The Dawgs will then display their 2006 look to the masses on Saturday at Bulldawg Stadium in the Soap, Shampoo and Towel Scrimmage beginning with the junior varsity game at 7:30 a.m.

Contact Monty Campbell at

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