The first-team offense that struggled with consistency during spring practice showed signs of improvement in Saturday’s annual spring game as the Blue team beat the White team 16-7 at InfoCision Stadium in front of approximately 500 spectators.
Presumptive starting quarterback Kyle Pohl connected on 16-of-24 passes for 144 yards in the win and running back Jawon Chisholm caught five passes for 35 yards.
“I saw enough things that I really liked,” coach Terry Bowden said. “I saw a little more consistency and ability to run our offense by our first string than I did last spring, especially the consistent drive down the field against our defense.”
Pohl looked comfortable in the offense, directing the first team to a touchdown to open the scrimmage with a 75-yard drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Ritossa.
Pohl played calmly and coolly during the drive, which promptly woke up the first-team defense.
The first-team defense turned the tables and asserted itself after the first touchdown.
The first-team offense can thank the second-team defense for giving them a short field with which to work in the first half. The second-team defense intercepted three passes from backup quarterbacks Dalton Easton and Steve Franco. Unfortunately, the first-team offense wasn’t able to capitalize in a significant way, turning those turnovers into just three points.
“Maybe more important is the second offense put the defense in bad situations and they didn’t give up another touchdown,” Bowden said.
The second-team defense continued its thieving ways in the second half when sophomore cornerback Bryce Cheek intercepted his second pass of the game at the White 15.
With Pohl leading the way, the first-team offense appeared to be on its way to another touchdown before Pohl took a hit that forced him from the game.
Easton was brought in to try to finish the drive.
The second offense didn’t play well, especially the quarterbacks, pointing to a problem that Bowden and his staff will face in the fall unless Easton or Franco makes a big step forward during the summer.
If the Zips go into the season with just the three quarterbacks, a problem could present itself with a Pohl injury.
“I think I would say publicly right now, we are very receptive to a Division I graduating senior quarterback if one might show an interest — just because there’s some development behind Pohl that has to come,” Bowden said.
Should someone with the necessary resume come in, Bowden said he would have the opportunity to compete for the starting job.
“You’re not going to get a good one if you tell him he doesn’t have a chance to beat out Kyle,” he said. “Kyle needs to prove that he can win that position. He also needs competition. He needs to win his position. He’d better be pretty good because I think Kyle is a pretty good quarterback.”
Solidifying the offensive line will be necessary to ensure that Pohl doesn’t end up out due to injury for a prolonged period.
Zips quarterbacks took five sacks in the game and were hurried on many occasions.
“I don’t have to look at the tape,” Bowden said of the offensive line play. “We have to get more depth.”
That depth will likely arrive over the summer with the arrival of freshmen that Bowden expects to increase the level of competition for playing time.
Running back D.J. Jones (Ravenna) took advantage of playing time running for 53 yards on 11 attempts for 4.8 yards per carry. … Kicker Robert Stein booted field goals of 58 and 54 yards but missed some shorter ones. … Linebacker Jatavis Brown dominated with 10 solo tackles, followed closely by John Rachal with seven. … Defensive end Albert Presley had six solo tackles, including two sacks.
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.