Head football coach Jerry Glanville’s Sixth Avenue office received a complete makeover during the off-season. Instead of a pair of chairs, a cushy cloth couch now sits to the left of the doorway. Glanville’s computer rests on a small desk to the side of his primary workplace. The walls are a refreshing bright white. And two glittery black Viking football helmets book end his wooden, executive-style desk.
Head football coach Jerry Glanville’s Sixth Avenue office received a complete makeover during the off-season.
Instead of a pair of chairs, a cushy cloth couch now sits to the left of the doorway. Glanville’s computer rests on a small desk to the side of his primary workplace. The walls are a refreshing bright white. And two glittery black Viking football helmets book end his wooden, executive-style desk.
Like his office, Glanville hopes his team’s off-season makeover–after graduating 25 players and bringing in 30 recruits–will have the same stunning results. His first step toward reaching that goal began on day one of spring practice Monday.
“It’s great. I love it,” said sophomore quarterback Drew Hubel about getting back onto the field. “You come to play, not sit around in the winter.”
Coming off a 3-8 year, the Vikings look to completely change their fortunes during the upcoming season. Glanville believes that change begins with controlling the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense.
“Both of our lines need to win consistently. That’s got to take place for us to be where we want to be,” Glanville said.
While Glanville worries about how the offensive line will fare during spring practice since only a handful of the big men upfront are available due to graduation and several high school recruits, the defensive line appears to be significantly upgraded.
Portland State returns six starters on offense and defense. However, only one of those players, junior defensive end Josh Evans, is a defensive lineman. Enter John Shackelford and Joseph Ma’aseia, a pair of junior college transfer teammates, coaches feel they should rejuvenate the defensive line.
“These guys are going to be huge assets,” said senior linebacker Andy Schantz. “This is going to add to depth to a spot where we were pretty thin last year.”
Glanville’s signature 3-4 defense, featuring three defensive lineman and four linebackers, had trouble containing running backs last season, allowing 154.5 yards on the ground per game. The acquisition of Shackelford and Ma’aseia, both juniors standing taller than 6-foot-4, should help Portland State better stymie opponents’ rushing attacks next season.
In addition to the two defensive linemen, Glanville pinpointed a few other players that should give the Vikings’ defense, which ranked seventh of nine teams in the Big Sky Conference last season, a boost in his second season in the South Park Blocks.
Glanville feels sophomore inside linebackers Dallas Smith and Rory Richards, who contributed minimally last year, will make an impact this time around. With Smith and Richards performing at a higher level, the linebacking core should be Portland State’s most complete position, as Schantz, senior KJ McCrae and sophomore Ryan Pederson are all coming off superb seasons.
In Glanville’s words, junior cornerback Reggie Jones, “might be the best wide out and cover guy,” on the team. Jones, who transferred from Idaho and redshirted at wide receiver for the Vikings last season, should start at cornerback when the season kicks off in August.
“They’re getting a lot of tutelage from the coaches and the returning guys, so I think they are way ahead for them just picking [the schemes] up, which is huge because some of those guys we’re going to have to depend heavily on,” Schantz said of the new additions.
Most of the major changes took place on the defensive side of the ball, but offensive coordinator Darrell “Mouse” Davis and his slew of coaches had the offense up and running as well on Monday.
Like a season ago, quarterback is the biggest question mark entering spring practice. This time the contest is between Hubel and junior Tygue Howland. Hubel started four games as a freshman last season after Howland broke a bone in his foot against McNeese State during the opening game, ending his season prematurely for the second year in a row.
Both players threw the ball with zip and accuracy on the first day of spring practice, though a favorite has yet to emerge.
The wide receivers lining up to catch Hubel’s and Howland’s passes were noticeably shorter in stature than a year ago, as three key players from the position–Tremayne Kirkland, David Lewis and Kenneth Mackins–have graduated.
According to Davis, the architect of the pass-laden run-and-shoot offense, smaller and quicker receivers who generally play the slot position are more conducive to the scheme. Hubel said it does not matter how tall the receivers are as long as they are skilled players.
As the Vikings filed off Stott Community Field Monday, many new faces flashed by and more familiar ones emerged, too. But, regardless of familiarity with the program, the smiles on the players’ faces and high fives they exchanged speak loudly about how the players feel to be back on the field.
“I love it,” Schantz said about practicing again. “Everyone’s come out here with a certain pep in their step, and we know what to expect this year.”
Spring practice: Glanville’s players to watch
Defensive end Junior 6-4, 265 pounds Strong points: superb size, strength and quicknessKey contribution: stabilize defense line and pressure the quarterback
Defensive tackleJunior6-5, 280 pounds Strong points: speed, power and versatilityKey contribution: contain opposing running backs at the line of scrimmage
Cornerback Junior6-0, 200 pounds Strong points: athleticism, covering ability and can also play wide receiver Key contribution: solid lock-down corner and playmaker
Inside linebacker Sophomore 6-3, 220 pounds Strong points: size, speed and familiar with 3-4 defensive scheme Key contribution: stop rushers that advance to the second level of the defense
Inside linebacker Sophomore6-3, 225 pounds Strong points: knows the 3-4 defense and solid tackler Key contribution: help round out a stellar linebacking corp.