At 7-1 and atop the Gulf South Conference, the Blazers are on familiar ground but they’ve changed their strategy for winning.
The biggest difference: No game-changing receivers. No stand-outs. Just a group of dedicated players scrambling to win.
“We got a blue-collar group out there,” David Dean, Head Coach, said. “There’s no real superstar out there, so to speak, everyone kind of does their job.”
This season, VSU has also seen a significant shift on offense from pass first to run first. Last season, the Blazers attempted 429 passing plays compared to just 339 rushing plays. This season, they have reversed those totals as they have rushed 304 times to just 270 passing attempts. This reversal can be attributed to many different things, including the play of the in-experienced quarterbacks and the production of the offensive line.
“I think our offensive line is a good run block offensive line and that’s probably why we have run the football a little bit more than we have in the past, coupled with the fact that we have a plethora of running backs that we can roll in and keep fresh and they all do different things,” Dean said. “We got some speed guys, we got some power guys, and we got a mixture of guys, so that has a lot to do with our philosophy this year on offense.”
It hasn’t always been so.
Over the past decade, the Blazers have had go-to receivers—someone who carries the team in receptions. From 2006 to2009 that guy was Cedric Jones. Before him, it was Reggie Mosley from 1999 to 2002. The two climbed their way to the top of the VSU record books. Jones is the all-time receptions leader in Blazers history with an astounding 282 career catches, which he set last season.
Mosley is the all-time leader in both touchdowns (48) and receiving yards (3,738) for VSU. The play of both dominant receivers carried VSU into the postseason. In 2002, Mosley carried VSU to the national championship game, where they fell. Jones led VSU to the title game twice, where they won in 2004 and again in 2007.
However, this season is different. VSU is 80 percent through the regular season and there is still no dominant go-to receiver, but that’s okay with wide receivers coach Tyler Aurandt.
Aurandt said he doesn’t see the need for a go-to receiver when several guys step up each game and the wins continue to pile up.
In certain games, Wilburt Carter has stepped up. In the last home game against Arkansas-Monticello, Gerald Ford had a great game, as well as Jackson Dean. The Blazers’ offense is not built around a certain receiver, so all receivers have the opportunity to make certain catches here and there.
“We’ve just had one or two guys every game that has really pushed it to where we can be successful,” Aurandt said. “We haven’t had a whole group great effort yet. We keep having one or two guys that continue to make plays and get us to where we need to be. Once we get that whole group effort and the whole offense plays as one, then you will see us start to win by a bigger margin.