Garden City, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Four, trying days in the unforgiving heat and 117 Busters were still standing Tuesday night when the team traded their shorts and tees for full pads.
“It’s a toughness deal ,” Head Coach Matt Miller said following his team’s morning practice. “There’s a lot of guys who look like Tarzan with the shorts on, and they play like Jane when the full pads come on, so it’s question and answer time tonight.”
On the first day of two-a-day practices, some questions were answered; others-not so much.
First-the quarterbacks. Jake Curran seemed tentative at times in the night cap. The sophomore was intercepted twice during a live scrimmage: once on a deep ball down the sideline where he under threw his intended target; the other came on a post route down the middle where safety Mikail Grace (more on this in a moment) snagged Curran’s overthrown ball.
The positives: Curran did complete a couple of intermediate passes, and made some nice reads down field. When it wasn’t there, Curran scrambled for positive yardage.
“He (Jake) was trying to anticipate things before he saw it and threw a couple picks out there,” Miller said. “I’m not too concerned; neither one of these guys lit anything up today.”
Akeem Jones didn’t fair much better. While the freshman didn’t throw an interception, he was responsible for two fumbles. The silver lining: Jones’ athleticism. The Carol City product proved to be very nimble on a several instances where he scrambled for positive yardage when the pocket started to collapse. His most impressive feat of the night: the fact that Jones always kept his eyes down field.
“With Akeem, it’s just him getting used to our system,” Miller said. “It’s the little things he has to focus in on. Just getting snaps and understanding who we’re reading on certain pass plays.”
Bottom line-with 18 days until the season opener against Independence, the two quarterbacks are dead even. While Jones brings a rocket arm and Nick Marshall type athleticism, Curran brings a comprehensive knowledge of Miller’s system. This staff will have some tough decisions to make before next Friday’s scrimmage.
Grace moves to defense
Still wearing what amounts to a red quarterback jersey (can’t hit), Mikail Grace spent Tuesday in Joe Gordon’s defensive backfield. Did the quarterback race suddenly become a two-man show?
“Mikail is a special athlete; even better than some Division I or II guys,” Miller said. “We need him on the field and right now he’s getting more reps on the defensive side of the ball.”
Although the Buster defense isn’t doing anything fancy through four days (playing mainly base), their coverage has been suffocating. That’s welcoming news for a unit that allowed over 600 yards per game last season.
“We got a lot of guys who are competing,” Gordon said. “That’s what we ask of them-come out here everyday and play with a sense of urgency. Be intense and just try to get better.”
Busters will be back on the practice field Wednesday at 1:15 p.m.