For the most part, the weather cooperated for the culmination for spring practice. The game, played in front of 8,500 fans, had few dead spots and entertained the lively crowd. The threatening weather reduced the fan attendance, somewhat.
Of the abundant reporting coming out of spring practice sessions much was witness both positive and negative. But on this day, some facets rarely seen in those sessions showed up in the white team victory 23-22 – well how do you do!
“I was glad to see Dicky Lyons Jr. made the plays that I know he is capable of making,” said Rich Brooks. “All spring he has kind of been the missing link until today. Just like he usually does on game day, when he shows up and puts on a little bit of a display, and gave us one of his patented great catches in the end zone.”
“I like making him mad,” Joker Phillips said on Friday of Lyons’ absent play most of the spring and the picking up of his play the last two sessions. “I don’t want him to always have to be ticked off at me to have to play the way he’s playing but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. My job is to motivate the guys on offense and I feel like I know how to motivate him. That did motivate him by calling him out (publicly). The guy can play – we all know that but you’ve go out to play everyday.”
Lyons said he’s got to get the young guys more confident.
“I’m young because I’m working with a young team,” Lyons said. To his need for prodding, he said everybody knows he is a game day player but if Joker said he needs to step it up in practice, that’s something he needs to do. Lyons had 10 catches for 148-yards and two dazzling touchdowns.
Brooks said – “We had a great tight end in Jacob Tamme who could catch anything thrown his way and I thought our tight ends showed up today. I believe we will be very good at that position next year.” Ross Bogue, who has been in the program for two years and had a couple of good-hands catch's in the game for the fans to see.
Sam Maxwell had, not a bad spring, but a relative quiet spring after relegating starter Johnny Williams to a back-up role much of the second half of last season. Linebacker coach Chuck said last week that Maxwell had kind of flat lined and needed to pick it up some.
On his spring game performance, Maxwell said, “I was trying to cut down on the mental mistakes. I was working more on my technique and we practiced more on technique this spring. I’m eager to build on my success from last season. Maxwell’s outstanding play showed back up today.”
On the receivers Lyons said, “We have a couple more answers than we thought. I was really surprised at the way Kyrus Lanxter performed because he was going against the first-string defensive backs like Trevard Lindley, Paul Warford, and Shomari Moore. He made some big time catches.”
Lanxter had one touchdown catch but could’ve had three, on one he was wide open as was overthrown, and the other he had beaten the defense and ran the wrong route.
“I guess we are game players especially Dicky,” Lanxter sheepishly said.
Blue team coach Joker Phillips said the blue team couldn’t catch the ball. At times the receivers were playing ‘Hot Potato’ out there. The team that threw and caught the ball won the game.
“I loved what (Michael) Hartline was seeing and the information he was giving back,” Phillips said. On the competition at the quarterback position, Phillips said he didn’t want it to be easy.
Though Alfonso Smith needs to work on his catching, his running was eye-popping. The same Alfonso Smith, who had nagging injuries all last season - the same Alfonso Smith that ran for almost 100-yards at Mississippi State in 2006, when all the other backs were nicked up, returned today to the form everybody’s been waiting on.
“Alfonso has so much speed and is a great athletic player,” Hartline said. “He’s just like Derrick Locke. He’s just as quick and just as fast as him.”
So it’s on to the summer and perhaps by September other missing facets will show up.