by Chris Webb
With winter looking to be well behind us Valdosta State football is wrapping up their 2015 spring practices with Thursday’s Spring Game at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
Scheduled for an 8 p.m. kickoff the annual inner-squad scrimmage between the offense and defense provides fans and students their first opportunity of the year to come out and get an idea of what next season’s team has in store.
More importantly however it gives player and coaches an idea on the areas that may require more work and attention during their summer practices.
“We want to see guys who have improved throughout the spring. From the individual things we have taught them to their overall fundamentals and technique.” Head Coach David Dean says.
The major points of emphasis this spring for the Blazers were third down and red zone conversions both offensively and defensively.
“Offensively we just need to get more consistent.” Coach Dean says. “Defensively we need to work on the penalties and that just comes down to technique.”
VSU finished fifth in the Gulf South Conference last season converting on only 43% of their 183 third down chances.
If the Blazers look to build upon last years playoff run that number needs to improve.
The spring game also provides players looking for more playing time the stage and opportunity to catch the coaches’ eyes one last time before summer practices.
Sophomore running back Jordan Germany has done just that early in camp and has found himself now competing for the back up job behind Senior All-GSC running backs Austin Scott, and Cedric O’Neal.
Germany who spent all of last year buried on the depth chart under four other running backs has made the most of his early chances and has sparked a position battle.
“Jordan has had an outstanding spring and probably has been one of our biggest surprises so far.” Dean says.
While Germany might only be competing for the back up job there are many starting jobs that remain open all over the field and on offensive especially.
VSU is losing four seniors starters from last year’s offensive line which has created quite a huge bout for the four open spots.
The Blazers will also have to replace All-GSC quarterback Jake Medlock who led VSU to an NCAA quarterfinal appearance in his only year at Valdosta.
The early popular candidates for the job are Junior Kaleb Nobles who has seem time briefly as a starter over his first two years and Florida International transfer E.J. Hilliard.
The 6 foot 3 inch Hilliard, who played at FIU with Medlock before his transfer to VSU last year, has the size and strength of a prototypical quarterback that Nobles just lacks.
Where the 5 foot 10 inch Nobles lacks with his size and strength he makes up for with his knowledge.
Spending a majority of the past two seasons as the backup quarterback with the clipboard and headset, no one but the coaches themselves has a better understanding of the offense.
With the first game of the season still over five months away the Spring Game these position battles are just the beginning of what many hope to be a successful 2015 football season.