Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Whitmire was given the reigns of the VSU offense on the 12th offensive possession of this past Saturday’s 25-22 win over the Wingate Bulldogs.
He replaced redshirt junior Jimmy Coy, who completed just 11 of 27 passes for 101 yards in his first career VSU start.
“Sometimes it is not your day,” Coy said. “I didn’t throw the ball well and it didn’t come off my hand well. A win is a win though.”
Upon entering the game, Whitmire immediately made his presence felt as he led VSU on a commanding 65-yard drive which resulted in a field goal.
“That first series I was extremely nervous,” Whitmire said.
Whitmire followed his opening drive up with two more drives—including the game winning 27-yard drive—all of which resulted in field goals.
“After the third or fourth series I felt pretty good and I thought I looked pretty good,” Whitmire said. “Hopefully I can do the same thing on Saturday during the first few series.”
Despite his confidence about his possible performance this Saturday—and after completing 14 of 23 passes for 201 yards last week— Whitmire is not a lock to start this week when the Blazers travel to Newberry S.C. to take on the Newberry College Wolves.
According to head coach David Dean, Whitmire and Coy have been in a battle all week for the right to be the starting quarterback and a decision on who will start was made last night—however the decision will not be announced until today.
“We haven’t made a decision on that yet,” Dean said. “We are going to go back and evaluate and watch practice from (Wednesday). Basically we are going to put together Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice and figure out what is going to be best for us. We have to formulate now on what our game plan is going to be and what direction we are going to go.”
Blazers look for revenge on Newberry
Last season the 12th ranked Blazers were upset on opening day by Newberry College 31-24 on their home field. That began a disappointing season for the Blazers.
However this weekend the Blazers will get the opportunity for revenge on Newberry as they make their second trip to Newberry in three seasons.
“They are a good football team,” Coach David Dean said. “They are scary. They have a lot of speed on offense and they have a big physical offensive line.”
Newberry—who also finished 2009 with a 6-4 record— blasted Livingstone University 55-0 last week as the Wolves racked up 332 yards total offense, while holding LU to just eight yards of offense—which included negative 39 yards rushing. In the win, many Newberry starters saw limited action in the second half.
“It benefits us in the fact that they have not played a full game,” Dean said. “They got a full rest and they are not as beat up as we are and as sore as we are though.”
As for Valdosta State, the Blazers will key in on pressuring Newberry quarterback Bryan Ehrlich, who is making just his second career start for Newberry. Last week Ehrlich completed six of his nine passing attempts for 108 yards and four touchdowns.
The game this weekend will mark the Blazers first road contest of the season. Something that Dean said can give his team a problem.
“First road trip, whether you go plane or bus, you still have to go on the road and go in front of a group that is going to be hostile,” Dean said. “Personally, I would much rather travel on the bus because you get a chance to sit back and relax and you get to go the day before.”
Ronnye Nelson shows up big for Blazers
Senior running back Ronnye Nelson showed up in a huge way for the Blazers last week. Nelson rushed for a team best 83 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Nelson also caught three passes for a total of 49 yards while returning two punts for a total of 40 yards.
“I just wanted to go out and do what I could for the team and put our team in the best situation,” Nelson said. “We felt like we had better matchups and we took advantage of them.”
Nelson’s dominant opening day performance comes on the wake of a disappointing fall camp, which is when a lot of the talk surrounded running back David Arnold and sophomore David Bailey.
“I just go out and play my game,” Nelson said. “I’m not worried about people on the outside of the VSU community and this team, so I just go out there and perform. Every time I have a chance to get the ball in my hand I just make the best of it.”
Ronnye Nelson is expected to see ample playing time this week against the Wolves. Last season Nelson led the Blazers with 26 yards rushing on eight carries while recording a team best 46 yards receiving on four receptions.
Jones status uncertain for Newberry
With less than a minute to play in last weekend’s game, defensive captain DeMario Jones went down with an injured ankle. Jones was carted off the field; however he spoke with local media after the Blazers thrilling 25-22 win.
Jones said the pain was a seven out of 10 when the injury first occurred, however he said that he did expect to play against Newberry.
On Wednesday afternoon, VSU head coach David Dean confirmed Jones will play this weekend.
Blazers to honor America
Saturday’s game will mark the second time the Blazers will take to the field on the anniversary of the attacks on Sept. 11. The last time the Blazers took the field on the anniversary of the tragic day was in 2004, when the Blazers took down Ouachita Baptist 40-19.
According to Dean, numerous steps are needed to be taken in order to carry an American flag onto the field; however, Dean pointed to the flag on the back of the helmet and said the flag is on there to honor America.
The game this week is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff and can be heard on the Blazer Radio Network. You can read about the game online at vsuspectator.com.