Hitting the field

For the first time this spring all the whacks, cracks and thuds commonplace to football could be heard from the Stott Community Field, as head coach Jerry Glanville unleashed his squad for contact in the spring’s first scrimmage Saturday.

For the first time this spring all the whacks, cracks and thuds commonplace to football could be heard from the Stott Community Field, as head coach Jerry Glanville unleashed his squad for contact in the spring’s first scrimmage Saturday.

When the Vikings suited up for action on Saturday, the conditions couldn’t have been better for football. The drizzle, which disfigured Glanville’s straw hat a week earlier, finally ceased. The practice field was replaced by radiant sunshine, which brought many curious spectators out to catch a glimpse of the Vikings’ first competitive play in spring.

The guys in pads and helmets definitely gave the Viking faithful that surrounded the field some entertainment. In the 35-play scrimmage, which is played in a first-and-10 format, the Vikings showcased offensive coordinator Mouse Davis’ newly installed run-and-shoot offense and Glanville’s trademark 3-4 defense.

As a whole, the Viking offense looked like a unit still adjusting to Davis’s new game plan. Fullback Bobby McClintock, however, really showed off his skills. The sophomore backer gained 62 hard-fought yards, touching the ball only four times on three rushes and one 39-yard shovel pass from senior quarterback Brian White.

“I think Bobby–the fullback–is a real football player,” Glanville said, paying McClintock the head coach’s ultimate compliment.

Davis also found the fullback’s blocking potential and robust running style impressive. He said that the fullback position has the most depth on the team with McClintock headlining along with senior Olaniyi Sobomehin and freshman Kyley McCrae.

“He’s really what you are looking for back there. He’s a tough little guy that isn’t so little,” said Davis. “He benches 480-490 pounds and has good speed on top of it. We got to have a blocker back there, and he is a blocker. We got to have a runner, and he is going to be our running game primarily. The kids behind him look pretty good too, so that might be our deepest spot.”

Another saturated position for Portland State is at quarterback. Behind center, the Vikings have a full-fledged competition for the starting position. Presently, White and sophomore Tygue Howland appear to be the frontrunners, with transfers junior Jimmy Collins and sophomore Garrett Graves waiting in the wings.

White, who had the first opportunity to audition for the position, executed the first 10 plays, connecting on all five of his passes for 107 yards. The 6-foot-5 transplant from Colorado also had two passes of more than 30 yards, hitting McClintock with the aforementioned shovel of 39 yards and a 31-yarder to sophomore wideout Matt Bramow.

Howland, coming off a torn ACL in his left knee sustained against California last season, took the reins for the next 10 plays, completing three of five pass attempts for 38 yards.

“The two big kids [White, Howland] are throwing it well. Right now, Howland is seeing the field a little better than White,” Davis said. “The thing about quarterbacks is they either get better or worse when the lights come on, and we don’t have the lights on yet. So we’re a little slow to make decisions until we get further into what we want to do.”

On the defensive side, Glanville was once again hard pressed for compliments for the team. The first guarantee he made upon taking over the head coaching position was that his squad would knock out opponents. He even claimed the Vikings would be the “hardest-hitting football team on the West Coast.” When asked about how his team was progressing toward this lofty goal, Glanville put the defense’s status in perspective.

“We’ve got to get a whole lot better hitting. We’ll have to get better through drills because we haven’t hit much so far. But, before it’s over, we are going to have a crescendo of sound,” Glanville said.

Glanville demonstrated the difference between where the Vikings are currently and where he expects them to be by tapping his chest. He patted his chest gently at first, explaining this is what he heard from replacement players as head coach of Houston during a scrimmage following the 1987 NFL strike. He lightly hit his chest in the same way, stating this is what he heard from his Viking players during the first scrimmage. Then he rapped on his chest a bit harder to illustrate his team’s goal once the season begins in September.

The few compliments that Glanville did have to give out were to his linebackers, praising two names that won’t appear on any roster as “the kid from San Diego State” and “the javelin thrower.” The Vikings’ comical coach was referring to junior linebacker Andrew Schantz, a former Aztec, and senior Jordan Senn, a Viking track-and-field athlete. The tandem combined for five tackles, playing in less than half of the scrimmages’ 35 plays.

At the end of the second week under Glanville, the team has made strides in many facets and still has an abundance of improvement to undergo, but the coach is confident in both his coaching techniques and personnel.

“We’ll get better, because the strength of the whole group is their attitude. Attitude is the strength,” Glanville said.