The Smith-Cotton football team has a new football coach and Ryan Boyer brought a new playbook with him.
“Right now we’re putting everything together, implementing our new pass plays, our new runs plays, just learning the new terminology,” said quarterback Caleb Reed.
“We’re doing a whole new playbook and taking different steps as linemen,” said LJ Marsh. “We’re picking up nice and fast. We’re learning a lot more plays and trying to get good at the basics so we can learn more.”
Along with the new plays are a slew of new players, but those who have been in the program and working to get those newcomers up to speed.
“We explain to those veteran guys that there’s going to be a lot of new faces and those new faces will help the program,” Boyer said. “It’s going to take both coaches and players working together. The upperclassmen have done a great job of taking these guys under their wing and explaining it to them.”
The Tigers return three starters on the line; Austin Jaekel, Ryan Lefevers and Marsh.
“Right now, we’re trying to figure out the best fit but what’s nice is we have multiple linemen to choose from,” Boyer said. “They’ve done a nice job of picking up the concepts. That’s what we stress is become a unit.”
Boyer said the offensive line is strong and there is a lot of depth with that unit. Now they have to work to become a unit.
“That’s something that early in camp they were trying to learn,” Boyer said. “They were primarily focused on what their job was, which was important, but then we said ‘you are a unit. That’s how you will be evaluated.’ Since then you can tell they really have started to do that and it’s showed when we go into team and some of the drills.”
In the offensive backfield, both Chance McMullin and Dakota Brown have graduated so the Tigers look to a rushing attack that will include veterans Carlton Homan, Ricky Warren and Josh Hartman as well as newcomers Noah Azierre and Dalton Zaremba. Boyer also expects to see Logan Parham filling in. Smith-Cotton will use all of the rushers in the attack instead of having one featured running back.
“They’re all going to rotate,” Boyer said. “What’s nice is with the depth that we have, we can plug in different personnel packages. We want to utilize what they do well and we want to keep them fresh. Some of these guys are going to play on defense too. They’re not going to be just one-way players all the time, and we always stress to them it’s a long season. Especially early on in those hot games, they’re going to need breathers.”
Reed rose to the starting quarterback job in the middle of last season and is back in that role this year.
“This year I’m seeing a lot more reps and I feel like I’m more comfortable back there,” Reed said.
Reed completed 56 percent of his passes last season for 608 yards and two touchdowns. To prepare for his first full season as the starter, he said that during the offseason he spent “a lot of time in the playbook, a lot of time in the weight room lifting and running and a lot of time watching film.”
Jayce Simoncic will be his backup.
“They’ve both done a great job,” Boyer said. “Over the summer they were in all the seven-on-sevens and attended all the camps. They’ve done very well with picking up everything that we’ve thrown at them.”
Smith-Cotton’s receiving targets will be Marquez Raye, Lane McFail, Jake McFail as well as many other players who will be plugged in, including several of the running backs
“What’s nice is we have some speed out there so we can stretch the field,” Boyer said. “And then we just emphasize the little things and the route running to open themselves up or open their teammates up.”
On special teams, a trio of Smith-Cotton soccer players are getting a look at kicker; Nik Crank, Blake Grupe and Brendon Hofheins.