Football Spring Game: Live Blog

Postgame: Any other questions or comments, feel free to leave them below and I’ll get to them as quick as I can.

Postgame: Senior defensive tackle Sean Lissemore was just given the team’s winter warrior award for work over the offseason.

For the captains, senior quarterback R.J. Archer, senior safety David Caldwell, Lissemore, senior defensive end Adrian Tracy, and senior tight end Rob Varno.

Postgame: Some standout performances from some backups and freshman: junior defensive lineman Brian Jean-Pierre looked very good both in passing and running downs. He recorded, by my count, 3 sacks. Similarly redshirt-freshman Brian Thompson played a good deal and looked very good in coverage out there.

On the offensive side, junior wideout Marshall Dill received extensive playing time and made some good catches, looking pretty consistent. Starting wideout junior Chase Hill also looked good.

Postgame: Outstanding performance for the defense today, which pushed around the offense throughout the entire game. The defensive line was nearly airtight, allowing very little and the secondary covered well. The Tribe’s quarterbacks had a shaky performance with Mike Callahan and Nolan Kearney looking the best, Callahan in extensive minutes and Kearney in just a couple series. Starter R.J. Archer looked poor, missing some throws, although he was pressured frequently. I wouldn’t read too much into his performance today though, as this is basically just another practice.

End of fourth quarter: Senior linebacker Sheldon Alexander makes a great diving breakup on a pass intended for Thomas in the end zone. Acrobatic play. A play later redshirt-freshman running back Meltoya Jones bulls for 7 yards up the middle for the score. Good run as he took half the defensive line with him into the endzone. There’s 6 seconds left, but the players head to the sidelines and it appears that will end today’s scrimmage.

0:30, fourth quarter: Mangas moves the offense down into the red zone again on a couple completions to Chase Hill. Riggins pounds the ball up the middle a couple times and picks up a first down at the 7.

2:00, fourth quarter: C.J. Thomas makes a nice catch on a nice throw from Mangas. Thomas held onto the ball despite getting hit hard by Brian Thompson on the play. Seems like Thompson has been around the ball all day. Mangas goes deep into the end zone looking for Thomas and sophomore corner Terrell Wells makes a great play to break up the pass, almost intercepting it. Jean-Pierre follows that up with another sack. He’s looked very impressive today.

3:00, fourth quarter: After Schmand came in for a series, D.J. Mangas comes back in and shows some good running ability scrambling for 15 yards. He then dumps one off to Riggins for another 15 or so. Seems like most of the offense’s yardage has come off dumpoffs to the running backs. It’s something the defense struggled to contain last year as well.

4:36, fourth quarter: Callahan rolls a nice bootleg left and dumps it off to an open Chase Hill for the score. A well-run play by the offense and Pate drills the extra point. 14-0.

When I said Pigram earlier for my captain picks, I meant defensive end Adrian Tracy. Not sure where Pigram came from.

5:00, fourth quarter: Callahan comes back in and throws a lame duck down the sidelines. Ugly and he’s lucky it wasn’t two interceptions in a row for the defense. He makes up for it by hitting Dill over the middle again, before Marriner catches one and makes a nice, spinning run down the sideline. It’s called back for holding though. The offense continues to move and Callahan hits Riggins on a dumpoff who takes it down to the 4 yard line. First time the offense has entered the red-zone all day.

Crowd has swelled over the course of the game and is probably at or around 1000 people or so. Not a bad turnout. It’s a great place to be on a beautiful afternoon like this.

7:00, fourth quarter: Kearney back in at quarterback and, a few plays in, gets picked off by sophomore defensive back Ryan Woolfolk. Woolfolk converted from tailback to the defensive secondary this spring and shows how much he’s learned by making a nice play on the ball right there.

End of third quarter: The Tribe will announce their 2009 captains at the end of the game. I’m going with Archer, McAulay, David Caldwell and Mike Pigram. We’ll see if I’m right.

End of third quarter: Jean-Pierre gets in on another sack. The defensive line has been by far the most impressive unit in this game, continually dominating the opposing offensive lineman. Nearly no running lanes have been open up the middle and the ends have continually been chasing the Tribe QB’s. Dill almost makes another great catch down the right sideline, but just can’t get down in bounds after fighting off a cornerback for the ball.

Sophomore quarterback Nolan Kearney comes in and tosses an excellent throw down the left sideline for Moody. Good coverage by Brian Thompson on the play knocks the ball away, but a spot-on throw, something we haven’t seen much of today.

2:00, third quarter: Mangas hits Marshall Dill in the middle of the field for a big gain. Dill got a half step on the safety and made a great catch on a slightly underthrown ball. He’s having an impressive spring game.

3:00, third quarter: Junior defensive tackle Bryan Jean-Pierre laces through to sack D.J. Mangas on the next possession. Jean-Pierre was ineligible for academic reasons last season, but has had a great spring and could provide the Tribe great depth in the middle of the d-line. I’ve heard several players raving about him this semester.

5:00, third quarter: Sophomore Terrance Schmand in at quarterback now and the offense looks to throw. Schmand looks alright, completing a dumpoff to a fullback and just missing two deep throws down the sideline. Redshirt-freshman wideout Ryan Moody almost made an excellent catch on the second of those two throws.

Redshirt-freshman defensive back Brian Thompson makes the highlight play of the day, intercepting Schmand on the right sideline. Thompson made the catch before acrobatically twisting to get both feet down in bounds. Thompson and B.W. Webb are both up and coming freshman corners who will look to help fill the void left by the departed Derek Cox.

6:00, third quarter: Callahan in to take some snaps with the first team and completes one downfield, before turning it over on downs. Sophomore linebacker Jake Trantin gets on the scoresheet, recording the sack on fourth down.

Halftime: Overall in the first half, a somewhat disjointed performance for the offense, with quarterbacks failing to be protected and being somewhat inconsistent when throwing. Archer especially missed his share of throws, although it is necessary to note that they are going against what will be one of the top defensive units in the CAA.

Halftime: Just to clarify, I wouldn’t expect either Grimes or Marriner to be used as receivers per se, but I think they will catch their share of passes from out of the backfield. Either way, they are a strong check-down option for Archer.

Halftime: To answer a few questions, neither Schmand nor Kearney has taken any snaps at quarterback yet, but I would expect to see at least Kearney in the second half.

As for the running backs, I would expect to see multiple backs on the field frequently in the fall. Laycock has one of the most versatile and talented running back corps in the conference and, with a young and somewhat inexperienced receiving corps, I would expect both Grimes and especially Marriner to factor into the passing game. We’ve definitely seen that so far here, although you can’t read too much into what is basically a glorified practice. Riggins has possibly looked the best out of all of them today, running powerfully both up the middle and to the sides.

Halftime: The offense tries to operate a quick 30-second drill to end the half, but sophomore defensive end Ravi Pradhanang hampers that by chasing down Archer for a sack. Pradhanang might be the best backup defensive end in the conference and would probably start for the majority of CAA teams.

0:30, 2nd quarter: I’ve been focusing on the offense a bit much, but the defense overall has looked very good in both coverage and running situations. The starting defensive line unit of C.J. Herbert, Adrian Tracy, Sean Lissemore, and Michael Stover has been particularly good, allowing nearly nothing in the middle of the field. They will be perhaps the best unit in the conference next year.

1:00, 2nd quarter: Archer gets time in the pocket to sit back and scan the field, but he misses an open Chase Hill on a crossing route. A second later he misses an open D.J. McAulay streaking down the sideline. Archer has looked a bit shaky so far today when he has thrown, although he hasn’t had a ton of time against the Tribe’ outstanding defensive line.

1:30, 2nd quarter: 13-yards around the left side for Marriner. All three of the Tribe running backs look very solid today. A second later, Marriner, in pass protection, follows that up by throwing a crushing block on defense end Marcus Hyde. Marriner has to be giving up at least 6 inches and 75 pounds to Hyde, but he lit him up impressively right there. He’s blocking better than the o-line.

1:58, 2nd quarter: Callahan, in at quarterback, hits Marshall Dill on a 28-yard fade route for a nice touchdown. Dill found some space in between the corner and safety of the second team defense and got free down the sideline. A nice throw by Callahan who hit the wide open Dill in-stride. 7-0 for the offense, but the defense is definitely still winning.

2:00, 2nd quarter: After getting off to a decent early start, the offensive line for both the first and second team units has fared poorly in pass protection. They look especially susceptible to straight up, bullrushes and have given up a handful of sacks already. They seem to be opening up decent holes for the running game on occasion and the offense has fared better there, looking to run first. However, there have been few times so far today when the quarterback, whether Archer or one of his backups, has had decent time to sit back in the pocket.

4:00, 2nd quarter: Simultaneously, Marriner has been very active in the passing game as Archer seems to look for him slightly sooner than a quarterback usually looks for his check down option.

6:00, 2nd quarter: After Mangas misses an open receiver on third and long, the offense punts and the first teams hit the field again. This time the offense looks much better as junior Terrence Riggins rumbles through the right side for 15 yards or so. Riggins got off to a strong start last year, before being hampered by injuries. He looks very strong and fast today though, and expect him to play a big role for the Tribe in the fall if he stays healthy.

Start of 2nd quarter: After 8 minutes, the defense has looked good, filling gaps well and wrapping up ballcarriers effectively. Sophomore D.J. Mangas is now in at quarterback and scrambles left side for a few yards. He’s very fast when he puts his head and and runs.

End of 1st quarter: For solli90’s question on the O-line, sophomores Dan Donker and Chris Sutton are taking some snaps with the first team and the protection has been solid so far. Of course, right as I say that, Sutton gets blown up by junior linebacker Wes Steinman who moves in to sack Archer.

2:00, 1st quarter: First team offense and defense back on the field, taking over at their own 18-yard line. Junior Terrence Riggins takes one right side for nine yards on a strong run. On 3rd and 1, sophomore tailback Jonathan Grimes picks up the first after getting tripped up at the line. He then goes 10 yards on a reverse. Grimes is lining up split wide on about half the plays so far, possibly a new wrinkle for the Tribe in the fall?

4:00, 1st quarter: On drive number 2, Archer heads to the sidelines and backup qb Mike Callahan takes over as the second team offense hits the field. They move the ball on the second team defense, gaining a first down at the 45-yard line before the defense forces a three and out. Callahan looked fairly strong and mobile in the pocket, however.

6:00, 1st quarter: A win for the defense on the first possession, forcing a three and out. Punter David Miller then booms one 58 yards into the opposite end zone. Looks like he is prepared to improve on his 3rd-team All Conference mark a year ago.

Start of game: Tailback Courtland Marriner takes a carry to the left end and we are under way. The offense will start each possession at their own 30-yard line as kickoffs are eschewed — no reason to risk injuries. Similarly punts will be non-contact. Each quarter will be eight minutes long.

Pre-Game: Junior wide receiver Terreon Conyers and senior safety David Caldwell are the most notable scratches from today’s game, but each is held out with only minor injuries. A relatively clean spring for the Tribe on the injury front.

Pre-Game: A gorgeous day here in Williamsburg and a good crowd of a few hundred Tribe fans populating the parking lot side of the stadium. On the field the offense in green and the defense in white (gold) are warming up on each side. Senior quarterback R.J. Archer is in a red non-contact jersey, while everyone else is donning either the green or white. A full seven-man referee crew is getting ready along the sideline as well, while a TV crew from Norfolk is filming in the northeast corner. Overall a good turnout on what is an absolutely perfect day.

Please chime in below with any questions or comments you have throughout the game and I’ll answer them as quick as I can.


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