|Golden Bulls take heart from spring|
|Football takes more aggressive approach|
|Published Saturday, April 19, 2014 8:42 am|
Spring football is over. Next up is preseason preparation.
|FILE PHOTO/CURTIS WILSON|
|Johnson C. Smith defensive end Jovantay Williams (33) is the lone returning starter to the defensive line. He led the Golden Bulls with 12.5 sacks in 2013 and made all-CIAA.|
Johnson C. Smith, which concluded offseason drills with the Gold-Blue game last week, will be markedly different when the Golden open against Charlotte on Sept. 6.
The biggest change will be on the offensive and defensive lines, where newcomers are expected to challenge for starting positions.
“We’re young and have to wait on our key components to come back with the players we’ve recruited,” junior cornerback Damion Miles said. “We’re going to work with what we’ve got right now. Everybody’s buying into the program.”
Otherwise, there were plenty to digest from spring practices:
• There’s a renewed emphasis on aggression. The Gold squad, made up of defenders, won the intrasquad scrimmage 18-15 on April 9 by physically beating on the Blue early. The Blue turned the tables in the second half by establishing the run and throwing deep,
“They’ve improved with being physical on both sides of the ball,” coach Steve Aycock said. “It was a competitive day each day we banged in pads when it was offense against defense, so I’m excited about how physical we’ve gotten and playing relentless right now.”
• J.C. Smith’s defense, which struggled to stop opponents late last season, was especially aggressive under defensive coordinator James Lott.
“We bent but didn’t break as a defense and that’s what I like about what we did,” Miles said. “Our young guys did what we had to do.”
• Keahn Wallace is the key to success. After a slow start, J.C. Smith’s offense got into gear behind the junior quarterback, hit 7 of 12 passes and scored on a 2-yard run. His backup, Ardrey Kell graduate Andrew Alexander, went 3-for-5 with a long scoring pass to Fred Scott, the Golden Bulls’ top deep threat.
• There are plenty of playmakers. Regardless of who is behind center, JCSU has top-shelf skill players in Scott and Terrell Hutchinson at receiver. Tailbacks Leander Barney and Kyle Gregg are capable of establishing the rushing attack.
“Fred Scott made some big plays and Barney and Gregg ran the ball well,” Aycock said. “I’m also looking for bigger plays out of Terrell Hutchinson where he’s got to be our big-play guy.”
• Defense has something to prove. With Jovontay Williams the lone returning starter on the defensive line, the front four is in transition. The back seven, however, is mature with six starters returning and adding Spencer Shine, who sat out last season. The secondary took a hit in the finale when safety Kerry Hartley went down with an apparent arm injury. His status for fall drills is unknown.
“We just want to carry this team,” Miles said. “We don’t want to have to be like last year when we were giving up 30-40 points a game. We’re shutting out this year, and we’re going to make it happen.”
• There’s intrigue on the offensive line. Just one starter returns, which affects offensive performance. If the newcomers gel, the Golden Bulls could be explosive.
“A lot of those guys haven’t had serious playing hours,” Aycock said. “I was excited about the way they hung in there this spring because three or four of the five are going to be part of what we do offensively in the fall. We’ve just got to put it together based on what we’ve got coming in.”
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