New scheme on display in East spring game (video)
May 22, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.
The biggest change might be the small things.
If Victoria East's spring football game was any indication, new head coach Roland Gonzalez appears to have stressed attention to the finer details of football.
"We have more intensity and more focus this year," said rising senior safety Chris Clark. "Going out to the smaller details, we're paying attention to the smaller things."
Those that saw the most snaps in Tuesday's scrimmage were those who were consistently focused.
Dropped interceptions result in push ups. Jogging on or off the field was not tolerated. Even the huddle was broken with the quarterback calling the play to two lines of five - the linemen in the first row, his skill players in the second.
Soon-to-be senior Mark Cavazos may have the inside track on the quarterback position, considering he took the first and larger share of the snaps with the varsity offense. He split time with fellow quarterback Cameron Schultz.
"The little things we messed up in practice and we fixed today," Cavazos said was the best part of Tuesday's scrimmage. "There is always room for improvement."
Gonzalez said at times both his quarterbacks threw the ball well. He said it will be an area both players will work on over the summer.
Anton Franklin was the primary running back in an offense that exclusively operated from the shotgun. Rising sophomore Lankin Williams also elicited murmurs from the crowd of about 500 at Memorial Stadium.
"Anton earned the opportunity to get a lot of snaps based on his consistency and his level of commitment," Gonzalez said. "He's done a great job of being there every day. He's been consistent with that. That is always an important factor when you look at people earning positions."
Cavazos said the defense, which is making the transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3 alignment, looked stout Tuesday night. His head coach agreed with him.
Rising senior defensive end Jace Mitchell forced a fumble. Fellow senior Albert Longoria appeared to be an emotional leader from his perch at outside linebacker. And then there is the secondary, which Gonzalez said figures to be the strength of the defense.
Clark, Michael Gonzalez, Mario Anguino and newcomer Dylan Rab have quickly molded into a physical unit at the back of the Titans' defense.
"Dylan has been a pleasant surprise for us. We didn't know he was going to come out and play football and he made the decision to come out. He hasn't played football in a while, but its evident he hasn't forgotten a whole lot."
In the 100 days before their Aug. 31 opener at Gonzales and his presumptive quarterback know the Titans have a lot to learn. But collectively, they look toward improving over the summer.
"You really never know until it comes down to it," Cavazos said. "There is still room to get better and get faster and stronger this summer. You never know until almost the first game starts."
EAST SPRING GAME ASSESSMENT
A breakdown of what went well, where the Titans improved and where they will need work before next season.
• ENCOURAGING SIGNS: The Titans' defense might be young, but it appears hungry to grow as a unit. Players were aggressive during East's spring game, swarming to the ball, gang tackling on most snaps and keeping the quarterback contained when he attempted to break out of the pocket. Considering the Titans lost several key components on the offensive side of the ball, an improved defense will relieve some of the pressure the replacements will be put under.
• TOP PERFORMANCES: There is a lot of solid talent in the Titans' backfield, especially at running back - a promising sign with the departure of go-to rusher Johnathan Garner. Anton Franklin, an incoming junior, received a majority of the snaps during the spring game, showing plenty of speed, power and elusiveness. Current freshman Lankin Williams appears to be a budding talent for the team as well, and could work his way into the rotation during his upcoming sophomore season. Oshae Barefield, also heading into his sophomore campaign, is another running back to keep an eye on.
• WHERE THEY NEED WORK: The Titans still have a long way to go in becoming a cohesive squad. Routine passes were dropped and balls were fumbled with regularity. The only thing hitting the turf more often than the football, however, were the referees' penalty flags. Sure, the Titans are adjusting to the philosophy of their new head coach, Roland Gonzalez, and they have a lot of time to gel and fix their ball-handling issues, but if unchecked, these problems could develop into lots of regular-season frustrations.