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Tidbits: Green-White game

By Jimmy Carter jcarter@news-journal.com
May 17, 2013 at 8:45 p.m.

Tidbits from my notebook from Longview's Green-White game Friday.

<ul> <li><strong>DEIONTE WALL</strong>. Yeah, had to break out the caps lock for that. He put on a show at Lobo Stadium. And it started with defense. His two big runs later will be what people talk about, but, at this point, it looks like linebacker will be where he spends most of his time. And he looked very good in the spring game, especially considering it was his fifth day at the position in his life. He was in on a few physical hits. He broke up a pass. He was all over the place.</li> <li>But the offense is what's going to grab people's attention. He finished with two carries for 97 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the spring. Both runs did come against a second-team defense that has generally been gashed this spring, but they both showcased his unreal speed. I know Hasty ran a faster 40 than him, but Wall looks quicker and faster in pads at this point.</li> <li>So what do you do with Wall? Lobos coach <strong>John King</strong>: "No doubt Deionte is a great running back. We know that. He's doing pretty dang good at linebacker, too. So he possibly could play both ways."</li> <li>That's what I think the coaching staff will try to do. At this point, he looks like he needs to be on defense. That unit struggled mightily against a shorthanded offense for the first few weeks of the spring until he arrived and they switched to the 3-4 "Wolf" package. They've flown around to the ball the last week, causing a fast offense problems. They'll be undersized with Wall at linebacker, but <strong>K.D. Dixon</strong> (5-7, 171) and <strong>Roman Brown</strong> (5-7, 160), the two players working at the position before he arrived, aren't much bigger.</li> <li>Wall is faster and stronger than either of those two players. And then there's this from Tuesday. King: "He's hard to get to, hard to keep blocked and he runs extremely well. And there's things that he did that are instinctive that there are guys that we practice and train to try to do the things he did (Monday) that never get to that point. And he did it the first day because he's a natural at a lot of things."</li> <li>But I think it's apparent that his speed and playmaking needs to be utilized on offense. The touchdown run was pure speed. The 27-yarder a few plays later was a combination of speed, tackle breaking and moves. Wouldn't be surprised to see him play eight-to-10 plays a game on offense this fall. And not all of those have to be touches. He can be a decoy. But put the ball in his hands and let him try to make a play a few times.</li> <li>And Wall wants to play both ways. He was pretty pumped after the game and seemed a lot more willing to do both than he was Tuesday. Wall: "If I can just get in shape and work really hard over the summer, I think I can do it. I want to do that."</li> <li>The offense should theoretically be much better suited to allow Wall to come in and get a few touches here and there than it was last season. A year ago, players like Hasty and Wall never got many opportunities because then-sophomore quarterback <strong>Dezmond Chumley</strong> was still learning the ropes and the offense couldn't afford to take many risks and chance wasting downs. So it was conservative and based around running back <strong>Tory White </strong>and fullback <strong>Antonius Sanders</strong>. The unit has a chance to be really good this fall. It has a seasoned quarterback, multiple big-play running backs, a bevy of talented wideouts and the program's biggest offensive line in recent memory. And that should allow for more imagination.</li> <li>But the offense wasn't dominant Friday. Hasty finished with six carries for 24 yards and <strong>L'darrius Peterson</strong> finished with nine yards on two carries. The run game was largely bottled up by the first-team defense.</li> <li>Part of that might have been their running style. King: "I think that if Petey and JaMycal were a little more patient, they would have had some better runs. I thought they were trying to hit the home run a little bit and excite the crowd. And they can do it. Have to take the good with the bad there. But I think with understanding down and distance situations and going with what we need to get to move the sticks, I think once we get in a game situation they'll be ready to do what we ask them to do. They knew it was going to be limited touches today and they were trying to make the best out of every time they touched it."</li> <li>The first-team offense had one touchdown and one field goal in five full possessions. The touchdown came on its final drive and was against a defense sprinkled with second-teamers. The offense failed to sustain a drive its first two possessions and averaged 4.1 yards per play with an interception and fumble on its first four full drives before scoring the touchdown. </li> <li>At least at this point, the 3-4 scheme has held up well against a physical run game. But it remains to be seen how solid the offensive line is. It's been inconsistent throughout much of the spring. But it is huge by Longview standards. And right tackle <strong>Kenny Andrews</strong> and center <strong>Vernon Hutchinson</strong> are both quality returning starters. King thinks highly of Hutchinson and Andrews was impressive throughout the spring.</li> <li>Quick comparison: Longview's starting line last year averaged 6-foot, 246 pounds. The starting line entering fall camp averages 5-foot-11, 282 pounds. Big difference.</li> <li>King on having a larger-than-usual line: "Bigger isn't always better, but there are about seven or eight guys up front I feel real confident in those guys. They've done a great job all spring. They're tough kids. I think that our strength and conditioning program has definitely paid off for us in the aspect of developing these linemen."</li> <li>The line wasn't at its best Friday, but was without left guard <strong>Sheddrick Borens</strong> (non-serious arm injury) and was moving guys around. The non-returning starters got a lot of experience last year that should pay off. The unit has a lot of potential, but will need to round into form quickly in August before facing a big, fast Coppell front seven that dominated the game last year.</li> <li>Chumley struggled at times and finished just 10 of 22 for 109 yards with a touchdown and interception. He started just 6 of 16 before hitting four of his last six throws, including the 10-yard touchdown to <strong>Dorian Leonard</strong>, against a defense that included backups. His throwing motion still looks like he's adapting to playing football after baseball season. That's understandable. The good news is 7-on-7 starts in June. It will be interesting to see how he handles going back and forth between baseball and football, but all the time spent throwing the football over the summer should pay dividends.</li> <li>Chumley is the unquestioned starter, but sophomore <strong>Cameron Castleberry</strong> easily threw the best ball Friday. He progressed a ton from the start of spring practice. He's had more varsity experience at this point than Chumley did. And it's evident. He was just 1 of 4 with a touchdown and interception in the varsity segment of the game, but his pick probably should have been pass interference on cornerback <strong>Kory Walker</strong>. Castleberry then did well in the JV segment, including hitting fellow sophomore <strong>Jon Sorey</strong> for a 46-yard touchdown.</li> <li><a href="https://twitter.com/jicartersports/status/335563219533959168">Tweeted earlier</a> that the class of 2016 has a chance to be a special group. I get that feeling the more I see them. Lots of potential there. I think the class is easily the deepest out of the sophomores/juniors/seniors. Not even that close. Castleberry and Sorey both have the look of big-time players and could be a potent connection on varsity in a few years. They will be a nightmare for JV defenses this year. <strong>Carl Hawkins</strong> is another speedy receiver who should grow into a solid player. The bruising running back-fullback tandem of <strong>Tylan Miller</strong> (5-7, 195) and <strong>Austin Moore</strong> (5-8, 224) is tough. Miller runs with great pad level and is very physical. Moore also runs well and can catch the ball out of the backfield. Miller had three carries for 27 yards before I stopped keeping track of the JV segment, while Moore had five carries for 26. The offensive line is already almost as big as the varsity line. <strong>Stacy Nelson</strong> (5-9, 211) has the makings of a big-time defensive lineman. Cornerbacks <strong>Kodeh</strong> <strong>Loyd</strong> and <strong>Travian Clayborn</strong> have good ball skills and will be solid if they continue to grow. And safeties <strong>Bryson Davis</strong> (6-1, 151) and <strong>Keenan Madden</strong> (6-1, 172) might have as much potential as anyone in the class. Davis had a few solid tackles Friday. The group as a whole looks like it could be one of the stronger classes in recent memory. Who knows where Longview will go in its next reclassification, but a team that includes this class as juniors and the Chumley-Hasty-<strong>Jaylon Jackson</strong>-<strong>Broderick Washington</strong> class as seniors should be pretty stout regardless of district or classification.</li> <li><a href="https://twitter.com/jicartersports/status/335524991296737282">Also tweeted</a> that no one would win the fan skills challenge. And I was right. All three contestants, three guys, caught the 40-yard kick. One of them let a few short kicks go before fielding one. Another contestant charged a short kick, catching it on a dead run and hanging on while almost wiping out. It was an impressive play. But none of them were able to complete the 12-yard pass into the target net. And no one came close to hitting the 30-yard field goal, which I figured would be the trip up. But each still received a Lobo T-shirt, car sticker and Border Bowl tickets to the Olive Branch (Miss.) game despite the tickets being advertised as going to contestants who passed two challenges. Not a bad haul.</li> <li>Speaking of kicking, junior starter <strong>Andres Perez</strong> drilled a 42-yard field goal on the first-team offense's third possession. He's been a little inconsistent while adjusting to new holder <strong>Chris Pellum </strong>this spring, but was money when it counted Friday, just like last year. His kicking should be even more of a weapon this fall.</li> <li>Leonard had a few drops on what would have been tough catches. But he showcased his ability when he caught a screen and shook four or five defenders to pick up a first down. He's been mostly dominant this spring.</li> <li>Brown was working as the second-team weakside linebacker behind Wall.</li> <li>Starting tight end <strong>Jordan Whitaker</strong> had a huge crack-back block on a defender. Completely decleated him. His blocking has improved substantially this spring and he can be a weapon in the passing game if targeted.</li> <li>There was a pretty decent crowd at the game. Better turnout than I expected.</li> <li>King on the overall scrimmage: "I thought our defense played well. They swarmed to the ball and didn't give up many big plays. They forced several three-and-outs. We had some opportunities. Had some missed throws and miscommunication on the offensive side a couple times. Thought it was a good scrimmage. Nobody got hurt. That was big."</li> <li>And the last two sentences are the most important about spring ball. There were no serious, long-term injuries to key players even though Longview finally used its full allotment of practices. Now the Lobos will concentrate on 7-on-7 and the summer strength and conditioning program in June and July before fall camp starts Aug. 12.</li> <li>That's all for today. It's been a fun spring. I'll be catching up with King in the next week for some spring recap and will be covering plenty of 7-on-7 this summer.</li> </ul>

Follow Jimmy Carter on Twitter @jicartersports



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