Football is focusing their spring ball training to develop younger players and gain experience. On both offense and defense, the squads are finding the positives this spring to create depth for the upcoming Fall season.
The ‘Dogs finished 8-3 last season and won a co-conference championship. Defensive coordinator Kellen Nesbitt said the team would have liked to have even more success than that, but they are looking to build off of that for this Fall.
“We graduated some good seniors, but to be able to turn it over to some really young guys who also have experience is a good feeling,” Nesbitt said. “We just have to trust the process and keep working and you have to think we have a chance to at least get close to where we were.”
From a defensive standpoint, there were quite a few out with injuries this winter and into the beginning of Spring. Nesbitt said there are four to five Defensive linemen alone out right now with injuries. All players are expected to make a full recovery in time for Fall. This has allowed some younger players to get some more reps and experience than they normally would have with all players healthy.
Junior Isaiah Hinton is one of the Defensive Lineman who was injured, but expected to return soon. He has had two surgeries this offseason due to a shoulder injury and a lingering finger injury from the fall.
“Having a lot of the starters out definitely has its positives in that more guys are able to get reps and gain experience during spring ball because learning through the regular season can be difficult,” Hinton said. “Somebody who is getting extra reps now is going to play an important role of us winning a championship next season.“
Nesbitt said there were still quite a few younger players who are coming back from playing over 100 snaps for them last Fall. Freshmen Sam Reeves, Jake Floyd, Spencer Chipley, Bryan Edwards, Jordan Siegel and Lawrence Woods, are just to name a few. According to Nesbitt, mixing these younger guys with some experienced upperclassmen creates great depth for the squad.
On the other side of the ball, offense is focusing on developing their younger players as well. Offensive Coordinator, Jason Killday, said the wide receivers only have two seniors in this position, Kyle Spratt and Jordan Jorgenson.
Killday said this is a good opportunity for these men to step up into a leadership role. They know the offensive system and they are running through the third install with them, so they will know what to do and how to do it. With the younger players Killday said they will be focusing on fundamentals, as this is a big thing for them, since there is a difference between knowing your route and executing the route.
“Anybody can draw it on a card and do it, but now you got to go do it and get open against off man, press man, zone, all the different looks you’re going to get. They all require just a little difference in the way you set it up,” Killday said.
Along with the returning seniors, there are a couple freshmen who saw the field in the fall. Killday said they redshirted about four or five freshmen as well, so this is the first opportunity to see what they can do within our system.
“People will get plenty of reps through routes on air, one on one, seven on seven, and on team to develop themselves and show us what they can and can’t do,” Killday said.
Killday and Nesbitt both agreed it is a good feeling to have such young players mixed in with some experienced players because it gives the squad a lot of potential and depth. Killday said the talent and skill is there, but now it is up to the players to execute.
“It’s a little bit of a blessing and a curse. Potential is always the word everyone uses. Potentially, we could be pretty good. They know they have the ability to get it done now they got to go do it,” Killday said.