Interview with head coach Rich Ellerson

Well, ok, I was a fan who waited in line, shook his hand, wished him luck, and then peppered him with questions about the team. He gave some terrific answers:

DL: Carson Williams came here with great fanfare a few years ago. Does he have any chance of being the starting QB in this offense?

COACH: NO! He is NOT going to be THE guy. The challenge for us is finding a role for him. He does certain things better than any of them....

DL: Now what about this decision to move your starting left tackle to wide receiver?! Seems like a crazy move...

COACH: Watch him. You see, I had a guy like him at Cal-Poly who is going to be a first day NFL draft guy, and it gave us an advantage on the perimeter. Villanueva's athletic background is in basketball, so he can really go up and get the ball. And we're going to take advantage of his blocking skills on the outside. He can't run too well, but in the red zone, you aren't going to run away from anyone anyway, so I tell the QB's to throw the ball up to him high and wide...

DL: Speaking of high and wide, this guy (Chip) Bowden, last year every throw he made was high and wide...

COACH: Tell me about it - he's STILL doing it!

DL: Last year, whenever he dropped back to throw the crowd would groan!

COACH: We're working hard with him. You know, he's the number one guy right now, but they are all keeping the seat warm until our guy from the prep school gets here...

DL: You have a guy coming from the prep school?

COACH: Yes - he's going to be great.

DL: Coach, thanks and good luck. You know, I was pulling for Mike Sullivan...

COACH: ARRRGH! Get out of here then!!!

He was laughing. It was a lot of fun.

As for the "game", you couldn't really tell much because Ellerson put all of his first stringers on the black team, and he put Carson Williams and all the plebes on the gold team. Carson Williams was running for his life the whole time. Sure, the first stringers looked mighty impressive beating up the plebes. Big deal.

Only one player really stood out during this scrimmage. It wasn't any of the RB's, it wasn't Villanueva, who had a long TD catch, but who also had two drops. It wasn't really anyone on D. It was backup QB Max Jenkins. He had the most positive plays of anyone on the day - a TD throw, a TD run, and several other nice plays.

If I could give you one encouraging impression, I was pleasantly surprised that they appear intent on being very aggressive THROWING the ball. It doesn't look like this is going to be anything like last year's option attack, with 40 fullback dives per game. They looked like they are going to get their RB's to the outside, and they are going to throw the ball plenty. That's why I believe what Ellerson told me - that there's no way Bowden is going to be the starting QB in this offense, and that whoever this prep school kid is will be the QB. Bowden still can't throw the ball, and Army will throw the ball.

I think I would have been a bit more impressed if there had been at least one series where the first string offense faced the first string defense. There wasn't much about the scrimmage to be impressed with. If anything, the first string offense should have done a lot more against a defense made up almost entirely of freshmen.

We will hold back our predictions for 2009 until we see how the kid from the prep school plays. From what we saw yesterday, there is really no reason to think they are going to be any better. At least they look like they are going to run a more balanced and diverse offense, so they might be more exciting to watch. Of course, compared to last year's offense, anything would be more exciting to watch.

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