By ANDY WOLF
Competition and continuity.
University of Findlay football coach Rob Keys has focused largely on those two aspects during this year’s spring practice period.
It’s led him to mix up the format of the annual spring game held 7 p.m. Friday at Donnell Stadium.
In an offense vs. defense format, the defense will start with a 24-0 lead.
The offense gets twelve series, six with the first string and six with the second string, to outscore the defense.
The only way the defense can score is by takeaway.
“Initially, the defense said we’ll take 21 and I said give them three more (points),” Keys said. “We played a scrimmage a couple of weeks ago in a very similar scenario. We didn’t have a points system but it would’ve been a 31-34-point offensive production. I think it’s going to be very close.
“The defense, they know their job is to stop them and keep that score at 24.”
Last year the Orange squad, comprised of the first-string offense and second-team defense, topped the Black squad 17-13.
Keys has been pleased with how the spring practices have gone thus far.
He’s cited general growth individually but collectively being not as far along as he wished with a few guys not participating due to injuries.
“I really think the consistency of this group has been very evident,” Keys said. “Very rarely have these guys had an off workout or a practice. They show up and seem pretty focused about getting better and that’s a mark of a good football team.”
Graduation didn’t hit the Oilers as hard as it has in years past.
The effects of continuity are more apparent for the offensive unit which put up 31.8 points per game — the fifth straight season with at least 30 under offensive coordinator Troy Rothenbuhler.
Only two regular starters depart in wide receiver Dylan Blunk (Findlay High) and right guard Jason Mulligan.
Blunk is second in UF history in career receptions (157) while Mulligan was a four-year starer.
“All these guys that have played last year are all back and they’re all comfortable with each other,” Keys said. “Offensively, our timing has been excellent.”
Defensively, four of the top nine tacklers are gone, two being linebackers and two being defensive linemen.
“All in all, we’ve got to learn how to play as a group and what we’ve done a whole lot this year is trying to mix the guys in that will play on Saturday together,” Keys said.
Junior Michael Campbell has been switched to cornerback after spending his first two seasons at running back.
He has 228 career yards and one touchdown on 50 carries in that span.
Defensive linemen Michael Tousley and Michael Koldan are now tight ends.
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