Playing in front of a crowd for the first time since the season ended in November, the Miami University football team played its annual Red and White spring scrimmage game Friday night, with White prevailing 27-3.
“I think we just got outplayed tonight,” said Mike Kokal, quarterback for the Red team. “You just hope the team plays as well next season as they did tonight.”
While the score and the victor were the last things on Head Coach Shane Montgomery’s mind, he said it was nice to finally see the teams out on the field after 15 spring practices.
“I saw a great effort from both teams,” Montgomery said. “We saw a lot of things out there which we need to correct. Our first team offense struggled, while our first team defense played pretty well.”
The six dropped balls by the wide receivers was something Montgomery was very worried about.
However, several younger players stepped up during the scrimmage and impressed Montgomery. With sophomore and top wide receiver Dustin Woods out this entire spring due to injury, freshman Armand Robinson stepped up, leading both teams with nine receptions for 75 yards, while junior Sean McVay hauled in six receptions for 59 yards.
“(Wide receiver) was a position we were worried about this spring,” Montgomery said. “Robinson has been really great for us. We look for him to do some great things next season.”
Backup sophomore quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh also impressed the coaching staff, throwing for 194 yards and a touchdown.
“Right now Dan is just one play away from being the starter,” Montgomery said.
One of the most important things for the ‘Hawks was to make sure that no one got injured during the friendly game.
“Last year we had two running backs get injured during the game and that was tough,” Kokal said.
The quarterbacks were protected during the scrimmage by wearing black jerseys, meaning they couldn’t be hit. While it protected the quarterbacks, it didn’t allow Kokal and Raudabaugh, who are two mobile quarterbacks, to show off their speed.
“I’m able to make things happen with my feet,” Kokal said. “But I’d rather not take a blind-side hit from one my own guys.”
Injuries plagued the 2-10 RedHawks during the 2006 season. The spring game was a chance for many of the injured RedHawks to get back on the playing field.
Junior running back Jimmy Calhoun found himself on the football field in a game situation for the first time since last years spring game.
“It’s just a relief to be with the team,” Calhoun said. “It just felt so good to compete with everyone.”
Calhoun didn’t disappoint in his return to the gridiron, rushing for the 59 yards and scoring one touchdown.
“We feel that it (running backs) can be a position that is really deep for us,” Montgomery said. “We just got to stay healthy.”
The year off from the field was extremely hard for Calhoun to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
“I’ve never gone a whole year not playing, and that was hard enough,” Calhoun said. “Then it got really frustrating during the season, not having something to do everyday. All I could do was rehab and lift.”
With the end of the spring season, it marks one of the last times the coaches can be on the field with the players, according to NCAA guidelines, until summer camp opens Aug. 2.
“From now until summer camp is the most important time for the team,” Montgomery said. “We can’t meet with them so it’s up to them to be in the best mental and physical play when they report in early August.”
The players know that this summer will be spent doing necessary training in preparation for the 2007 campaign.
“First I’m going to concentrate on my studies,” Kokal said. “But as a team we need to get things going and be more physical on both sides of the ball.”
After the spring practices and the spring game, the RedHawks are ready to play another team instead of themselves.
“Towards the end of the spring you’re sick of playing each other,” Montgomery said. “You want to hit another team.”
The team is counting down the days until Aug. 30 when the ‘Hawks open up the 2007 season at Ball State.