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Bournemouth Bobcats training hard for success

After nearly a month away from the gridiron, Bournemouth University’s American football club, the Bobcats, are back training and preparing for Sussex in a few weeks.

The club’s record stands at 1-2-1 right now, having beaten New Buckinghamshire University 14-3 for its lone win. It lost to Surrey 35-0 in the first game of the season and left fellow newcomer  Chichester with a disappointing 28-28 draw because there wasn’t enough light to continue playing. The Bobcats then went into Christmas break after falling 28-0 at the hands of local rivals Southampton.

With just three games remaining, the team met just before the break to discuss what they could do differently from that point forward. One of the most talked about points was the need to get more physical in practice so each player will get more comfortable tackling during games. Head coach Charlie Anderson said the aim is all about development.

“I feel that our tackling needed work due to a number of misses during the Chichester and Southampton games, which impacted the scoreline in both fixtures,” he said.

“I believe that the Bobcats are a physical, aggressive team, however, we needed to reflect that in training throughout the year to ensure that we are consistent in our approach.”

Raising the level of physicality during training should make the team tougher, but it doesn’t come without drawbacks. Rookie linebacker Justin Burrows was lost for the foreseeable future when he broke his foot during the first training session back from the holiday. A teammate stepped on his foot with studs on a tackling drill.

The loss of Burrows is a blow to the defence, but the return of linebacker Gideon Kasompe after missing two games with pneumonia should soften that impact. Additionally, Paddy King will try his hand at the linebacker position after moving from cornerback because the switch fits his skill set more, according to Anderson.

Other positional moves include rookie slot receiver Jake Stillman, who will see some time on the defensive side of the ball at cornerback, and offensive coordinator Joshua Edwards is close to returning from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered a year ago. Running back Adam Bowley, who broke his ankle earlier in the season, is already out of his cast, free of crutches and is jogging around, though he won’t be able to return to playing immediately.

In addition to players returning or switching positions, both the offense and defence are installing new plays and formations. These are designed to take advantage of both side’s strengths. While Anderson didn’t reveal exactly what those changes are, he said the team has been working on them both on the field and in the classroom.

The Bobcats will visit the Sussex Saxons on 25 January at 12:30 p.m. Sussex is currently 3-1 and in second place in the BUCS South East standings.