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On Saturday night collegiate football makes a return to Valdosta. The VSU Blazers will take to the field as they host the Wingate Bulldogs.

Blazers host Wingate on Saturday

On Saturday night collegiate football makes a return to Valdosta. The VSU Blazers will take to the field as they host the Wingate Bulldogs.
“We are excited,” VSU head coach David Dean said. “We are ready to get the season started. It feels like we have been practicing for a long time, so I feel like our kids are right now hitting the point where they are tired of being on the practice field. I feel as though they are ready to play.”

The Blazers kickoff the season Saturday night when they host Wingate. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PHOTO BY: ED HOOPER
Blazer fans will quickly learn what redshirt junior quarterback Jimmy Coy—who was named the starting quarterback this pre-season after senior Russ Callaway went down with a torn ACL in the first scrimmage of the year— is made of. “I’m very excited,” Coy said. “I feel like we are ready to go. I expect to win.”
For Coy, Saturday will mark his first game as a Blazer, after he was redshirted in 2009 after transferring from El Camino Junior College (CA). Coy has shown throughout the pre-season that his game includes passing and running, something he acknowledges he likes to use.
“I like to run,” Coy said earlier this pre-season. “It is something I have done throughout my career. It is fun.”
Although Coy will enter the game as the No. 1 quarterback, if the Blazers fall behind and begin to struggle offensively, Dean and his coaching staff could turn to redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Whitmire—who has shown substantial improvement throughout fall camp.
“(Brett) is preparing like he is going to play,” Dean said. “I don’t know what is going to happen. I’m not too big on playing two quarterbacks in a ball game, but if it comes into a situation where Jimmy is struggling or he is not making the right reads or he is not putting us in positions we want to be in, then we are definitely going to give Brett a shot. I think Brett is deserving.”
Something that might help Coy settle into a groove will be the play of the running backs as VSU has four reliable options in Ronnye Nelson, David Arnold, Michael Brown and David Bailey.
“Anytime you have a lot of experience at a position that is always going to be a positive,” Dean said. “For it to be in the back field next to a quarterback that is playing his first game for Valdosta State, that is definitely a plus.”
Blazer fans will also see if the defensive unit can stop the high-powered offense of Wingate—which sparked for 435 yards in their season opening 10-7 win over the West Georgia Wolves.
“You have to tackle,” Dean said. “That is one thing they are going to do, they are going to get yardage. That was one thing they were able to do (against West Georgia). They were able to break tackles last week and were able to get big plays off of that. The thing we have to be able to do is tackle.”
The Bulldogs offensive unit is led by redshirt junior quarterback Cody Haffly, who completed 26 of 38 passes for 343 yards last weekend in Carrollton. Haffly does not shy away from finding his favorite wide receiver in All-American Perry Floyd—who brought in 11 catches for 179 yards last weekend.
“They’re wide outs are going to make plays,” Dean said. “We have to be in a position to put a shot on him when he makes the catch and limit the yards after the catch.”
Despite high offensive statistics last week, the Bulldogs only offensive touchdown came on a quarterback sneak by Haffly in the third quarter as Wingate recorded just one offensive touchdown in five red zone possessions.
One man responsible for stopping the high-powered offense of the Bulldogs will be VSU defensive captain DeMario Jones—who will be making his official return since tearing his ACL in a losing effort to Ouachita Baptist in 2009.
The game this Saturday is set to begin at 7 p.m. and can be heard on Talk 92.1. You can read about the game online at VSUspectator.com.

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