The second week of spring practice for the Valdosta State Blazers showcased their depth throughout the roster.
It’s not hard to realize that coach Kerwin Bell has another talented group of athletes on his hands. However, it’s only spring so it’s hard to gauge just how good they’ll be in the fall.
The Blazers are still hindered from injuries to their first group of offensive linemen, making the depth there short. The defensive side showed good signs and proved to be a strong frontline even with a couple of guys down.
“We’re just so beat up. We got guys playing where they’re not supposed to play,” coach Bell said. “What’s really impressive is that we’re not going up against some cupcake defensive line. We got nine, to ten guys that can go.”
The Blazers added some big defensive linemen to complement their sack leader last season, Guito Ervilus. Bell is looking to put more pressure on the quarterback this season after being towards the bottom of the GSC in sacks last year.
Their linebacking corps is manned with seasoned players that know the system, and the secondary still has playmakers with corners Steve Durosier and Stephen Denmark. Denmark is one of the fastest players on the team and took an interception to the house during the second scrimmage.
“We moved him (Denmark) over there (to cornerback) from receiver last year, and we think he can be a shutdown guy,” coach Bell said. “He’s big, I mean he’s got NFL potential, he’s that athletic.”
Depth at the running back position probably continues to be the biggest takeaway for the Blazers spring so far. Coach Bell speaks highly of Quahlin Patterson, who was injured most of last year, and is a very consistent, big play guy. Cedric Hollingshed continues to break big runs in their scrimmages, and sophomore Jamar Thompkins is very fast and physical with a high ceiling.
With so much talent in the backfield, the Blazers may look to hand the ball off more this season. The Blazers air attack dropped off last season due to injury at the quarterback spot, and didn’t have the same explosiveness as they had in 2016.
However, they didn’t really hand the ball off as much as they let quarterback Rogan Wells run around. That hindered them in the sense that they became sort of one dimensional. On the stat sheet they’re a balanced offense, but it was the quarterback that rushed the ball and most of his runs weren’t by design.
Last year it got to a point where Wells was either running or throwing a short pass. Perhaps handing off the ball may add another dynamic to boost Bell’s offense when fall comes around.
To go see how the new group of Blazers look, their first spring game will be Saturday, March 3 at 2 p.m. at the Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Written by Joshua Miller, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of VSU Athletics.
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