Ok, so FFBSU hasn't been the blog of record for Spring football. Things are busy 'round the water cooler and I didn't even get to hit up the much-too-early-on-a-weekday first and second scrimmages (to recap: 1st scrimmage=yay offense...2nd scrimmage=yay defense). So, I packed up the family last Friday to take in the annual "Blue and Orange" game (which this year had more of a Blue and White hue to it)—the reliable end to Spring ball and a signal to diehard Bronco fans that football is an agonizing 4 months away.
The format, as everyone knows, was a bit different this year. Koach Kwiatkowski and Coach Pease both "drafted" their offensive and defensive lineups...Kwiatkowski electing to draft the "all-star" squad and Pease putting together a more modest squad. Of course, Coach Pete got in on the fun by playing God and striking down star players that flew too close to the sun.
The game, and the weather, were great. A crowd that I would put in the 10 to 12,000 range enjoyed seeing the new format and seeing some normally defensive players line up for the offense and some 2008 redshirts see their first gamelike action. In true Bronco fashion, the game had it's own exciting conclusion as the White team, built up to the Bad News Bears of the Blue, stormed back from a 10-0 deficit and got over on the "injury"-riddled Blue team behind some trickeration and opportunistic defense. Austin Pettis, now donning the number 2 jersey that Tanyon Bissell vacated last year, did his best Bissell impersonation and tossed a lofty reverse pass to a wide-open Tyler Shoemaker for the go-ahead score. Shoemaker may have been the biggest star of the scrimmage, showing the faithful that last year's decision to put him on scholarship was not a gamble after pulling down both of the White team's TD's and finishing with 138 yards receiving. After the game, we let the future Bronco down on the turf...he headed right for the high jump mats...D'oh!
- Doug Martin, though a quick learner and a fierce competitor at the nickel spot was outshined by Winston Venable in a BIG way. Venable is simply all over the field and as sure a tackler as I've seen. If WV doesn't lock down the starting nickel spot in Fall ball color me extremely surprised. It's OK, Doug...offense and special teams will find a place for you.
- We will see Mike "Bacon" Atkinson line up at fullback this year. Atkinson provided one of the more memorable moments of the scrimmage when he bounced a dive to the outside for a 25 yard gain. He's a force to be reckoned with on the D-line too. Believe the hype people...we really do have a 6 foot, 320 lb. Canadian on the team with quicker feet than Gregory Hines.
- Jeremy Avery and DJ Harper are going to tear the WAC a new one. Avery must have been born in Reno because he's the "biggest little" running back I've seen in some time—can't be more than 5'7" and 165, but the kid is lightning quick and runs over, around and through tacklers. Harper looks ready for a breakout season as well as he runs downhill very well and may be the quickest-in-a-straight-line back that we've got. Malcolm Johnson can take a much deserved rest and redshirt in 2009...Avery and Harper can handle things this year.
- Jarrell Root's 'fro has given him special powers. That, or dropping some pounds in the offseason has given him more than longevity. Root had an INT and a fumble recovery and looks like he's ready to be an emotional leader for the defense as a sophomore. The Bronco D-line will be something special this year...bet on it.
- Byron Hout is awesome. Nothing wholly memorable from Hout's limited action on Friday...but the kid just looks like a football player. Last year's partial-season of dominance will turn into a full-season of dominance in 2009.
- Kellen Moore has gotten stronger. Not just me...he seems to have more zip on the ball. That can't be good for opposing Ds.
- Bronco defensive secondary are bad, bad men. If you can somehow get over on Kyle Wilson, Jeron Johnson, George Iloka, Brandyn Thompson and Winston Venable...congratulations, you are Chuck Norris.