La Secla Opens as QB
Following the opening kickoff most fans expected to see either Sean Flynn (if his recent throwing arm problem subsided) or Adam Tafralis line up behind center to lead the opening drive. Instead Coach Tomey had incoming Freshman Jordan La Secla lead the offense that included a number of the younger running backs and receivers.
After La Secla completed a couple of quick sideline passes for short yardage the first run of the game was handled by Patrick Perry but the defense came out firing and stuffed the run up the middle.
The offense then went back to throwing the ball - back-to-back passes to Freshman John Thompson. The first pass was slightly overthrown and fell incomplete. The second pass deflected off Thompson and was almost intercepted by Junior Cornerback Domingo Holmes.
Continuing with the passing attack La Secla rolled-out right and threw a pass towards the endzone but unlike the previous pass this one was picked off by Marcus Harper - a Senior Defensive Back in his second year with the Spartans. Following the pick Harper scampered 40 yards until he was brought down by the offense.
Despite the outcome of the last two passes Jordan showed the fans, teammates and coaches why the future for looks bright for this underclassman as he went on to throw a strike to Junior Wide Receiver Michael Hooper who looks to get more playing time this year in addition to projected starting wide-outs John Broussard, James Jones and Chester Coleman.
The best play of the day for La Secla came on a play-action pass near the goal line where after faking the handoff La Secla rolled to his right and hit a wide-open Patrick Perry for a touchdown.
Tafralis Enters the Game
Following a solid 37 yard field goal by Jared Strubeck Adam Tafralis was out on the field along with the anticipated first-string offensive lineup that included Broussard, James Jones, Coleman and Yonus Davis.
Adam continued to raise the level of competition with Sean Flynn for the starting Quarterback job by hitting Broussard for a ten yard completion followed shortly thereafter with a great touch pass and an incredible, acrobatic catch by Junior Tight End Jeff Clark – a Junior College All-American who previously teamed-up as Sean Flynn's number one receiving target at L.A. Harbor College. – despite being well-covered on the play. The pass to Clark was good for 44 yards.
Tafralis just missed a 45 yard touchdown pass to John Broussard who was covered well on the play by Holmes. However, shortly thereafter Tafralis hit Broussard on a quick-out sideline pass that Broussard ran into the end zone for a 13 yard touchdown reception.
Davis Looks Even Faster Than Last Year
While Tafralis was looking sharp during his first set of plays of the scrimmage the running game stole the show during this same stretch – led by Junior Yonus Davis. While he became one of the top rushers in the WAC towards the end of last year it looks like Davis has taken his game up another notch – looking even faster this year than last.
First Davis used his blazing speed to avoid what looked like a sure loss in the backfield by cutting to the sidelines and breaking away from the defense for a seven yard gain.
Later Davis flew and weaved his way past three would-be tacklers for a 25 yard touchdown run.
Myles Eden's Turn at the Helm
Following Tafralis at quarterback was redshirt Freshman Myles Eden.
Showing the fans his Steve Young-esque scrambling ability Eden was able to avoid tacklers all day and gave his receivers time to get open – first hitting Junior Tight End Kyle Cancimilla who was a solid back-up to Bryan Watje a couple of years ago and looks to play a prominent role in a talented cast of Tight Ends in 2006 (especially with Jason Lance apparently not on the team for the upcoming season) for a 20 yard pass play.
Eden later went on to throw a jump-ball completion to Hooper under tight coverage as well as a 15 yard touchdown pass to wide open Sophomore Tight End Jason Cain.
Myles later threw two more touchdown passes during his second set of plays against only one interception.
The Kicking Game Looks Solid
While last year the starting Place Kicking job was not settled until right before the start of the season Jared Strubeck continues to be one of the best (if not THE best) three and extra-point machines in the WAC by solidly hitting all five of his field goals he attempted today – the longest being 47 yards.
Punter Waylon Prather, a Junior from San Lorenzo Valley High in Santa Cruz County, had a number of punts with fair distance but a significant amount of hang time with little- to-no ability for return yardage. With probably the strongest leg in the WAC this punting veteran should have a monster year in 2006 (hopefully we will not need him much this year with an improved offense). The key for Prather is to avoid the few shanks that he had back in 2005 as much as possible.
Backup kicker, Junior David Eisenhauer, solidly hit his first field goal attempt of the day – a 37 yarder - but missed his next two attempts.
A Future on the Island?
Freshman Running Back Cameron Island certainly impressed his teammates and received applause in the stands by showing blazing speed and Sheldon Canley-like moves with a handful of carries for sixty yards. While heading into this season it originally looked like the Spartans were going to be fairly set with a number of returning veteran backs (tailbacks Davis, Guidry, Perry and Fullback J.T. Collier) not to mention the highly-recruited Freshman Dominique Hunsucker from Valley Christian High, but with the current uncertainties regarding the playing status of Guidry perhaps Island and Spring Game standout Jacob French might have a better chance of seeing some time on the field in 2006 instead of redshirting the season.
Tomey Focuses on Having the Offense Get the Plays Off Quickly
Towards the end of today's scrimmage Coach Tomey had the bulk of the first-string offensive unit work on getting the plays off quicker – perhaps given one of two new game clock rules that will go into effect this season whereby the game clock will start after a first down after the referees give the ready-for-play signal (until this year the clock stopped after a first down and did not start until the offense snapped the ball).
After each of the first two plays during this particular drill Tomey furiously called-in the entire offensive unit and told the players that they were wasting too much time getting the play off and that they cannot spend almost half of the game clock just preparing to get everything ready for the snap. Following the two "lectures" by Tomey the offense began getting to the line and snapping the ball in a quick (to Tomey's satisfaction) yet calm manner.
Despite the new first-down game clock changes I do not expect to see more delay-of-game penalties by the Spartans this season given Coaches Tomey and Morton on the sidelines.
Other Quick Notes
•Perhaps the biggest news of the day was that Quarterback Sean Flynn did not see any action on the field. Hopefully he will be 100% come September 2 against the Huskies.
•While on the field Tackle Bradis McGriff did not see any action as well. His dominating force on the outside of the line is one of our big keys for success in the upcoming season. According to a post by Bradis' father on Spartanthunder.com this morning his son's knee injury is apparently not serious and he should be back on the field soon.
•Amongst the number of spectators at Spartan Stadium was San Jose State President Don Kassing who watched the scrimmage on the sidelines.
•One area in need of improvement before the beginning of the season is the ball handling on kickoffs. There were three muffed kick-offs during today's scrimmage. Presumably Coach Burns – who did an excellent job coaching the special teams unit last year - will get this problem rectified over the next couple of weeks.