Off-season optimism

Following a 66-play spring game scrimmage Saturday morning, Portland State head coach Jerry Glanville stood in his patented black garb on a sun-soaked Stott Community Field and spoke his mind.

Following a 66-play spring game scrimmage Saturday morning, Portland State head coach Jerry Glanville stood in his patented black garb on a sun-soaked Stott Community Field and spoke his mind.

Amidst his array of jokes, jabs and one-liners, Glanville made a statement that Vikings fans have grown accustomed to over his more than two years in the South Park Blocks. But this time he sounded a bit more confident, and a bit more certain.

“I think we’re going to be a better team.”

The results of Glanville’s first two seasons at Portland State have left something to be desired. Year one concluded with a 3-8 mark, and his second season was not much better, as the Vikings finished their most recent campaign at 4-7.

However, he believes Portland State has the pieces to improve in the upcoming season. And this is partly due to what he witnessed Saturday, as several lesser-known players impressed with solid performances.

One of those players was Cory McCaffrey. The high school running back from Sisters, Ore., who is now a converted sophomore wide receiver, hauled in six passes for 179 yards and scored three touchdowns, with each coming on a 45-yard pass from starting quarterback Drew Hubel.

“I’m glad Cory had a good day,” said offensive coordinator Mouse Davis. “He needed that.”

Outside of McCaffrey, Glanville identified sophomore wide receiver Ricky Cookman and Austin Curran as a couple other players that made him raise his eyebrows.

Cookman, who played in three games for Portland State last season, caught three balls for 65 yards. The majority of his production came on a 45-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Connor Kavanaugh.

“To me, he jumped out as a player,” Glanville said of Cookman following the scrimmage Saturday.

Providing a quicker, more agile alternative to 240-pound starting fullback Bobby McClintock, Curran impressed Glanville with improvement over the course of spring practice. On Saturday, the junior transfer carried the ball three times for 35 yards.

While Glanville was satisfied with Curran’s progression over the past few weeks, one question mark that has been absent this spring but has played a prominent role in past years is who will start at quarterback.

Davis established Hubel as the starter from the beginning of spring practice, and he was left without any doubts following the scrimmage Saturday.

Portland State’s four quarterbacks combined for 408 yards and six touchdowns. Hubel went four of six passing for 140 yards and a trio of touchdowns to McCaffrey. This was all good enough for Davis.

“Drew is our guy,” Davis said of the junior. “He gives us the best chance to win.”

To round out the quarterbacks, senior Tygue Howland finished with 129 yards passing, two touchdowns and one interception, while Kavanaugh threw for 108 yards, and passed for one score and ran for another.

In limited action, sophomore transfer Nick Green completed two of five passes for 31 yards.

Overall, Glanville was happy with the quarterback play.

“We’re very, very good at quarterback,” Glanville said with an air of confidence.

The offense was not all Glanville had to smile about, as the Vikings defense made 11 stops on 19 possessions, and allowed only seven touchdowns and one field goal on a smaller-than-normal 45-yard field.

Two transfers shined the brightest under the hot morning sun. Sophomore defensive end Carl Sommer had a total of three tackles, which included two sacks, while 6-foot-2 junior safety Donte Almond pieced together a well-rounded performance with four tackles, two sacks and a pass breakup.

For a Portland State defense that allowed almost 452 yards per game and 43 touchdowns last season, additions such as Almond and Sommer, as well as several other newcomers, will be welcome when the regular season arrives in September.

But months away from Vikings’ season-opener at Oregon State and with the spring sunlight still beating down on the Stott Community Field, Glanville remains hopeful for a whole lot more than an improved defense.
“I think we’re going to be better,” Glanville said.

And he has only one request.

“I just wish we would get there sooner.”