With the University of Rhode Island spring football practices wrapping up, here are some of the things I saw:
First Down: Â The quarterback competition seems to be down to sophomore Wesley McKoy and redshirt freshman Jordan Vazzano, as they took all of the reps while I was present. Of those reps about 60 percent went to McKoy and 40 percent went to Vazzano. However, despite the fact that they continue to get a majority of the reps, coach Jim Fleming cautioned both fans and media members into thinking the competition is over.
“There is still an open competition and those other guys aren’t off the table yet,” Fleming said.
Despite that statement, it seems to be down to a two-horse race, with McKoy looking like the favorite due to his mobility over Vazzano’s classic pocket passer package.
Second Down: Â In the middle of practice the offense had the ball, practicing situational football at the five-yard line and the handoff led to a safety for the defense. Apparently the offense didn’t like the celebration by the defense as there were multiple scrums and fights that broke out, in which the receivers and corners were particularly engaged. Eventually things cooled down, but not before some choice words were exchanged. Fleming was clear on his stance on fighting in practice and its effect on the team.
“I don’t embrace [fighting],” Fleming said. “It’s a bad habit and if you get into a fight during the game you are going to lose that half of the game and probably the next game. It is stupid and a waste of time.”
Third Down: Once again the receivers struggled catching the ball, with at least half of the passes thrown early on being dropped. The Rams will need their outside receivers to win their battles in order to give star running back Harold Cooper some room to work up the middle and on the edge. If the receivers cannot improve their concentration, the defense could stack the box with eight or nine men and take their chances one-on-one across the board against the wide receivers for Rhody.
Fourth Down: Tough way to end practice with the two drives culminating in a blocked field goal in which the kick was low and the left side struggled with protection. Vazzano held on to the ball too long on fourth down and was forced to take a sack. Not a great way to end a competitive practice overall.
Extra Point: Adam Parker’s Take
- Parker seems enthusiastic of his leadership role this season saying, “I actually embrace it,” he said. “It forces me to elevate my game. I had to learn way more so I could assist the linebackers around me and even have to tell the defensive line what to do sometimes. I enjoy the leadership.”
- When pressed about how hard it is to tackle Harold Cooper in practice, Parker laughed. “He is a shifty back and is pretty elusive and is an All-Conference running back, but I have been with him for two years now so I think I can handle him,” he said.
- As far as the defense overall, Parker was singing high praise. “I think the sky is the limit,” he said. “We have a lot of young talent stepping up. We have to increase our turnover ratio, but I think we will be pretty successful.”