In year two under Ryan Boyer, the Smith-Cotton offense is adding to the playbook and looking to challenge opposing defenses with a mix of run and pass.
“We have been able to open it up some more,” Boyer said. “I told them, whether we run it or throw it, it’s what you allow us to do. … It’s nice that we feel comfortable right now to take that 50/50 approach with the guys that we have. If it’s first and 10, we can run it or pass it. If it’s third and five, we can run it or pass it. It’s nice to have that.”
Caleb Reed, who took over quarterbacking duties midway through his sophomore year, is back for his senior year after completing 74 of 142 passes last year (52 percent) and throwing for 1,091 yard, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
“What we stress to him is just being consistent,” Boyer said. “Last year he did a good job, but some games were better than others. I felt like, especially at the end of the year, he was trying to do too much. He was trying to create a little too much instead of staying within the system, staying within himself. So far in camp and all summer, he’s been great.”
Boyer also sees the senior quarterback being more of a leader on the field this year, getting players lined up during practices and making sure everybody knows what they are doing on each play.
Backing up Reed is senior Jayce Simoncic. A pair of sophomores enter the season behind Simoncic on the depth chart; Blake Pomajzl and Jaden Kendrick. They have impressed Boyer so far in camp and will split time at junior varsity.
At the beginning of the 2014 season, Reed’s favorite target was Blake Jackson, but later in the year defenses began to key on Jackson to eliminate him as a threat. This year, the Tigers hope to do more to get Jackson open and he has done more to not only become more aggressive, but also learn the schemes, and not only to know what he is expected to do, but to know what everyone else in the play is doing as well.
“We tried to isolate him, put him out on an island,” Boyer said. “He’s done a great job of building on his skill set and work in the offseason, put on some muscle. He’s one that can play at the next level and should be able to.”
Cory Bond will also lineup wide as will Jake McFail and several younger players Boyer saw good things from in camp.
In the backfield, S-C has to find a replacement for 1,000-yard rusher Stephen Archambault, who graduated after a season which saw him average more than five yards per carry and score 13 touchdowns. Instead of one running back trying to fill his shoes, the Tigers will rely on many. Boyer likes the competition that will create as well as ensuring that S-C has fresh legs to call upon late in games.
Ricky Warren is in the mix as a lead rusher after carrying 33 times for 162 yards last fall.
“He does a good job,” Boyer said. “He’s a patient runner. He’s not the fastest guy, he’s probably not going to break an 80-yarder on you, but he’s one that lets the hole develop and he’s very unselfish. He doesn’t mind if he’s carrying it, blocking or catching it.”
Dalton Zaremba will also see time at running back as well as slot receiver. Logan Parham will also see carries as will Zach Powell.
Carlton Homan and Noah Aziere will serve the fullback role though the scheme the Tigers use will call upon everyone in the backfield to both carry and block.
On the offensive line, the Tigers’ Austin Jaekel will start at center.
“He sets the tone for those guys and does a good job of helping them out,” Boyer said.
John Carney at guard and LJ Marsh at tackle are also returning starters. For Marsh, it will be the fourth season as a starter. Boyer will pair players who have not started before alongside veterans.
“At those guard and tackle positions, we’re looking at a number of different guys,” Boyer said. “That’s the thing we stress, is competition. It’s wide open.”
Boyer said a lot of the players in the mix for playing time can line up either at guard or tackle, which adds to the possible combinations.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles