Spring football roundup: What is and is not known with games four months away
2011 record – 5-6 (4-4 Ohio Valley)
• Mike German shows no signs of sophomore slump: After stepping in midway through the season, the redshirt-freshman quarterback sparked the Tigers, who averaged 30.5 points. He picked up league freshman of the year honors in the process and TSU coach Rod Reed sees German keeping his job.
“Mike is obviously our guy,” Reed said. “I think he takes it very seriously on the field. He is still has some leadership characteristics that I would like to see come out a little bit more.”
• Daniel Fitzpatrick emerged as a defensive leader: After posting 69 tackles as a freshman safety, he returns as the team’s top returning tackler. This spring he didn’t slow down, stepping into leadership shoes.
“Daniel is a very vocal guy out there,” Reed said. “He makes all the changes back there in the secondary for us. We’re excited about Daniel. I think he is going to be a pretty good player for us.”
• Plenty of targets in passing game: Though last year’s leader in receiving yards, NFL hopeful Calvin McNairl, is gone most of German’s weapons return. Devin Wilson, Travis James and Jeremy Pryor continued to develop a strong chemistry with German.
What we don’t know
• How a young defense will fare: Juniors and seniors on defense are rarity as most of TSU’s starters will be sophomores and their backups? Freshmen. The Tigers allowed 32.8 points last year – third worst in the OVC.
“There is a lot of teaching going on,” Reed said. “Hand placement, eyes, every technical aspect you have to work on. We spent a pretty good amount of time in individual drills every day in practice just to fine tune technique and execution. I like the kids we have over there. We get after them a little bit.”
• What depth lies behind starting running back Trabis Ward: Reed spent this spring observing Kaylen Pearson, Telvin Hooks, Martine Stevenson and Ryan Berry. Out of that quartet only Berry and Stevenson touched the ball last year – combining for 33 carries.
“In our system we better have two or three good running backs,” Reed said. “We put the ball on the ground a lot.”
• If tight end emerges as another offensive threat: Besides from bringing a blocking presence, Reed wants his tight ends to develop into pass catchers. Wesley Samuels, Je-Marc Sears and Joe Bowens all caught touchdowns in the spring game. If that carries over into the fall, another dimension could form to an already explosive offense.