After all the spring practices and evaluation of talent sans the incoming freshman class we finally got to see the first version of what 2017 Bobcat football will look like under Everett Withers in his second year.
Saturday morning Texas State held their annual spring game. The offense shined throughout with the defense having their own moments but it was the Gold offense edging out the Maroon defense 104-102.
The scrimmage consisted of six sessions with various yard line starting points for the offense with points being awarded to the offense and defense for various plays including first downs and third-down stops.
Mississippi State transfer Damian Williams shined in his reps going 14/23 for 172 yards and four touchdowns while the line held for most of the game giving running backs Anthony D. Taylor, Robert Brown, Jr. and Samuel Longbotham some gaping running lanes. Running back Stedman Mayberry and tight end Gabe Schrade did not play in the scrimmage.
The above mentioned Williams showed poise and the ability to pass under duress and was able to read through his receivers with only a couple of his passes not finding their mark. Despite his capable showing including some impressive scrambles, coach Everett Withers made it clear that a starter at quarterback will not be named until the September 1st season opener against Houston Baptist as Williams and the other quarterbacks still have to contend with the incoming freshmen at fall practices.
The other quarterbacks who took snaps from today’s scrimmage, walk-ons Joseph Gonzalez and Michael Ross, were ineffective at times with Gonzalez collapsing under pressure and throwing a pick six and Ross’ Fran Tarkenton impression landing him with -35 yards on the ground.
On the receiving end Mason Hays led the team with four receptions for 82 yards with two touchdowns including a 45 yard touchdown strike from Williams. A three-way rushing attack was made in possible in part by the revamped offensive line. The line was shifted around with substitutions with most of the snaps taken by tackle Tryston Mizerak, guard Jaquel Pierce and center Aaron Brewer. Trenches dictated most of the morning as they provided a constant ability to open holes for the backs and gave Williams enough time to orchestrate the passing attack.
Defensively 2016 breakouts Gabe Loyd and Bryan London were held for most of the scrimmage in favor of talent to be fleshed out and bulk out the depth chart. The defense claimed a pick six off Joseph Gonzalez and a multitude of sacks, all off Gonzalez and Ross.
Special Teams wise the kickers/punters Marcus Ripley and James Sherman were solid with Ripley having the better of the punts and Sherman hitting a better percentage of field goals and extra points.
What We Learned
- Quarterback Damien Williams was a focal point and he didn’t disappoint. The ability to throw in the pocket and on the run and his ability to read through his receiver reads was excellent. If he’s not the starter come fall I’d be shocked.
- The other quarterbacks Joseph Gonzalez and Michael Ross were not as impressive. Gonzalez did calm down later but made too many mistakes and his release is a little slow while Ross showed glimpses of a rushing threat but the defense quickly adapted to his strength.
- The offensive line was solid, though the guard positions were rotated constantly throughout the morning with sophomores Charlie Vatterott and Kregg Lemons getting some session drives. They had just one penalty (a false start) during the whole practice which speaks to how disciplined they’ve become.
- With last year’s starter Stedman Mayberry out with injury the Cerberus style attack of running backs gave a glimpse of styles and were all impressive. Brown Jr. showed his cuts and agility, Longbotham gained his yards with patience reading his holes and Taylor showcased his speed through the defense with 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns. I’m a believer that this backfield will be up there with the Sun Belt’s best.
- Defensively the line was impressive all day. Before the scrimmage they dominated the offense in the hit drills showing a ruthless aggression that they did not have last year. Senior safety Dila Rosemond was a bright spot highlighted by knocking down a sure touchdown out of the hands of receiver Mason Hays.