When head coach Gary Harrell was hired last year, he faced a number of challenges. Harrell got a late start on recruiting, on implementing his system and on becoming familiar with the players. Fast forward to this year and there is a marked difference as evidenced by the Annual Spring Game in Greene Stadium.
While the defense prevailed 30-21 on a point system based to
turnovers, three and outs, sacks
and tackles for losses, the offense was able to move the ball smartly. Sophomore Greg McGhee and junior Randy Liggins, Jr. split time at the quarterback position and both looked sharp.
“You can’t compare last year’s spring practice
and this year’s,” offered Harrell. “I got the
late and we were installing a new offense. But we now have the advantage of having had a summer to install the offense and the defense in addition to playing 11 games together. The players now understand the system and are playing as a unit.”
The defense lost stalwarts Corey Berry and Sackie Kerkulah, all
conference selections. So Harrell
was anxious to see how their replacements would perform.
“We are very young up front, but I have been pleased with
the play of Ibrahima Kebe and
Rodney Hill,” said Harrell. “I feel confident in Markee White, Alphonso Beale and Taovan Sheats and their ability to come around.”
All American linebacker Keith Pough had his usual performance,
making plays all over the field.
But Harrell gets a little excited when he talks about the potential of junior transfer linebacker, Tabrian Resby.
“He is a tremendous addition to this program,”
explained Harrell. “You could see out there
today of what he brings. He is very disciplined, having come from Georgia Military College, he has speed and he is strong. He will be a factor.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Harrell was especially
pleased with the play of the offensive
line and the depth at running backs.
“When the offensive line performs that way they did today
without the services of two starting
tackles, Corey Gwinner and Davin Morris, it is very gratifying,” said Harrell. “Young guys like Bradley Bush Johnson and John Smith got a chance to get in some valuable time. The key is that they are playing as a unit.”
The beneficiary of that unit play was the running backs.
Terrence Leffall, who led the team in
rushing last season, is bigger and stronger than last season and looked in mid-season form. But
sophomore Aquainius Freeman, redshirt junior Andra Williams and redshirt freshman Terry Tuscan all looked good as well.
“You always need depth at that position,” said
Harrell. “They all have different styles, but are
McGhee appeared to be very comfortable with his reads and
checkdowns, sometimes going to
his second and third options. But Liggins has been what Harrell calls the pleasant surprise.
“Coach (Ted) White has done a great job with Randy in
terms of helping him understand what
he can do best in this system,” said Harrell. “He now understands what the defense is doing, he makes good throws and he can use his legs when he gets in trouble.”