After watching his team’s second scrimmage of thepreseason, coach Terry Bowden diagnosed what ailed his team with little problem.
“It was just a hodgepodge,” he said. “We need to be more consistent on both sides of the ball before I feel like we’re ready for a ball game. I’m not saying we won’t correct all of that.”
For the Zips, consistency means not taking two steps back after taking one forward. In Bowden’s offense, tempo and flow are everything. Mistakes interrupt that.
“We’re having big plays on offense and doing some good things but we follow it with a bad play or a missed assignment or inconsistency,” he said.
Quarterback Dalton Williams, whom Bowden confirmed has won the starting job, agreed with Bowden’s assessment, but struck an upbeat tone.
“We worked hard all camp. We’ve been improving in every aspect of our game and I feel good about where we stand,” Williams said.
It’s difficult not to see some of Bowden’s offense come together. It’s also obvious when one of those mistakes take a wee bit of wind out of that unit’s sails. But it also happens to the defense. At times it looks like it could throttle any MAC opponent, but then it does something that has to make the defensive coaching staff scratch their heads.
“The defense plays well then all of a sudden, they give up a big play,” Bowden said.
Starting defensive tackle Nico Caponi cautioned that work remains, but compared to last season he sees a huge difference with respect to enthusiasm and players flying to the ball. Although he confessed that in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, the defense came out flat to start and had to work its way into a groove that manifested itself in some nice goal-line defense on a few occasions. The defense also had a couple of penalties that he called stupid.
“The secondary is doing well and we have great linebackers too. All around, I think we’re pretty good,” he said.
Time’s quickly ticking away, however, for players on both sides of the ball. This was the final shot for players to put their wares on display and claim a shot on the depth chart. Those who don’t will find themselves on the scout team. That’s why Jawon Chisholm, the starting running back, saw fewer reps Saturday morning and others picked up the slack, including freshman Hakeem Lawrence, a speedster from Miami, Fla.
“We gave him a few more opportunities to make some plays. I thought he made some,” Bowden said. “A few more of those individual things were being done out there as well.”
Players should know their fates by today when Bowden is expected to release his first depth chart since arriving at UA. By Tuesday at the latest, he said, camp switches into regular-season mode as the Zips will begin to prepare for their first game of the season — a meeting with the Central Florida Knights coached by George O’Leary.
“We’re going to go to scout teams on Monday and start to get the organization there,” he said. ‘‘Probably Monday, but definitely by Tuesday we’ll be on game plan.”
Bowden said that he couldn’t ask for the team to be closer to meeting his expectations in the here and now, but he’s also aware of the Zips’ reality.
“To be honest with you, we better fight hard on both sides of the ball,” he said. “To me I think [we] can clearly see we do some good things on offense and some good things on defense and not enough on either side of the ball to be dominant.”
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.