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SPORTS NOTEBOOK / DICK WAGNER : Long Beach Coach Tough With Players

May 02, 1991|DICK WAGNER

Running back Reggie Webb's shin hurt after he was driven out of bounds during the intrasquad scrimmage Saturday that concluded spring football practice at Cal State Long Beach.

Teammates surrounded Webb, but his injury did not appear to be worse than a bruise.

"You'll be all right, Reggie," said Coach Willie Brown. "Put a little dirt on it."

Like the late George Allen whom he succeeded, Brown believes in conditioning, and he seems to have little patience with players who complain about minor injuries.

"He's soft-spoken but he spits nails," said Dan Bailey, the team's longtime trainer, after taking a look at Webb. "When you talk to him a bit, you see the fire come out of his eyes."

Mark Seay, a veteran wide receiver who caught two passes during the scrimmage, said that Brown's practices are tougher than Allen's. But off the field Brown is "like a father-type of coach, not real, real strict," Seay said.

Teammate Gerald Woodyard, another receiver, said that he was also impressed with Brown: "He stresses education first and football second, and I think he sincerely means it."

The scrimmage, conducted before a few hundred fans, lasted two hours.

Quarterback Todd Studer, who was honorable mention all-Big West Conference last season, completed five of 14 passes for 67 yards. Freshman Mike McCoy was 10 of 16 for 73 yards.

The most impressive runner was Charles Varrie, a walk-on from Carson who gained 59 yards on 10 tries.

"He's got those sandlot moves," said running back Johnny Robinson after Varrie eluded a pack of tacklers by reversing his field.

"We call him 'Sweet Feet,' " Woodyard said.

Varrie trotted happily off the field and said: "I had my Wheaties this morning."

When the scrimmage had concluded, Brown predictably made the players run sprints.

"Practice has been tough, no question about it," Brown said. "I believe in hard work."

Around his neck was a gold chain with No. 24 attached to it, the number he wore as an all-pro defensive back with the Raiders. Brown, 48, said he runs six or seven miles a day, and he looked in great shape.

The 49ers open the season Sept. 8 at San Diego State. With eight of 11 games on the road, they'll have to be as tough as their coach.

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