McGill Toolen started shaky in season opener
A review of last week's game before McGill-Toolen tries to bounce back from a loss in the first game of the year.
First, the UMS-Wright Prospects:
Let's start with the obvious. Junior RB Chris Dukes is one of the best running backs in the state of Alabama. Whoever lands him next year will get a heck of a running back.
Junior Chase Williamson is an athletic wide receiver with good hands who battles for every ball thrown his way. It's easy to see why he is going to be heavily recruited in baseball.
Senior Sidney Jordan is a big physical TE who looks to have soft hands. He's an in-line bruiser who can catch.
Senior MLB Jay Poasch can play in the middle of someone's defense at some level in college.
Senior DL Xavier Dupriest is a very fine football player who makes plays up and down the field.
The McGill-Toolen Catholic Yellow Jackets:
On the first play from scrimmage last Friday night, proceedure was called against the Yellow Jackets, topped off by a muffed quarterback/center exchange. On the second play from scrimmage, they turned the ball over to UMS. That in a nutshell, epotimised the night for McGill-Toolen.
They failed to sustain many drives and consistantly gave the ball to UMS-Wright with outstanding field poition. There were turnovers, penalties, miscommunications, special teams mistakes, pre-snap confusion in the secondary, the list goes on. These are not the type of mistakes you can make and expect to win against an experienced, well disciplined football team like the UMS-Wright Bulldogs.
There were some positives for the Yellow Jackets.
QB Preston Messer has the talent to make the offense go. For starters, he's a tough runner. He made some very nice throws, including a deep out that was very impressive for a high school junior.
Messer audibled into some good plays (although there were some hiccups in this area, too), and he made some very nice decisions under pressure when the pocket broke down, including a scramble and throw to the back of the end zone that just went through the hands of senior WR Jake Spaulding.
Tailback Lance Watson had a good night in his first varsity start. He ran through some tackles and showed the ability to outrun the defense when given a seam. RB Derric Burrell has the speed and athleticism to create mismatches from his fullback spot.
For the most part the offensive line did a solid job in pass protection, and there were times they opened up running lanes, but the effort in the running game has to be more substantial.
Considering the short field the defense was working against, after the turnovers, two short punts and a blocked punt, they held up against a good high school offense that will score a lot of points in 4A this season.
Take away the one long run by Dukes, and they made UMS earn their points the entire night.
Junior CB E.J. May made some very nice plays in man coverage, and junior DT Harris Mills looked pretty active along the front. DE Jordan Haynes had a good effort to open his senior year.
There is a lot of room for improvement. If McGill doesn't give the ball to UMS inside their own 40 on the first three possessions, we could very well been looking at a much closer contest.
The improvement doesn't all have to come at once. A better job in some game management situations like audibles (one audible resulted in a busted play, another in an illegal formation call) and shoring up the special teams play (two shanked punts, a blocked punt and a muffed kick return that resulted in starting a drive on the 6), and this might look like a completely different football team.
Speaking of special teams, kick coverage will be a point of emphasis this week, with Fairhope dynamo Jamal Woodyard coming up Friday night.
As Coach Mike Dean said in his post game interview, "Football is a tough game. It is a game of life."
Last Friday night, UMS taught McGill-Toolen a very hard lesson. Life's most valuable lessons usually are.
McGill goes on the road against Fairhope in a Friday night region match-up. Fairhope defeated 5A St. Paul's last week 34-21.