Monday, March 4, 2024

Here’s why this spring game is important for Tribe football

Shon Mitchell (left) goes through some drills under the watchful eyes of Brennan Marion, the Tribe's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. (Photo courtesy of W&M)
Shon Mitchell (left) goes through some drills under the watchful eyes of Brennan Marion, the Tribe’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. (Photo courtesy of W&M)

It’s hard to imagine Mike London having a tougher spring as a head coach.

There are no guidelines on how to deal with the death of a player, as London and the Tribe have had to do with the death of Nate Evans on March 21, just five days after the start of spring football practice.

“Despite the things that have happened, there’s been an energy,” London said, noting his players learned quickly how fleeting life can be. “Life is like you’re here for a moment and then you’re taken. … The psychological part for us, although Nate’s death was a tough one, is really, really in a good place right now.”

The team has missed a number of practices so Saturday’s spring game has extra significance.

Last year, the defense was one of the few bright spots in a season in which the Tribe went 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the CAA.

London, who was named the Tribe’s coach in November 2018, said he  thinks it can be a strength again.

“I believe we have a chance to be good on defense,” London said.

Leading the defensive returners are lineman Bill Murray and safety Isaiah Laster, both of whom will be seniors and were named to the all-CAA second team in 2018.

The offense, on the other hand, struggled last year, scoring just 13.6 points per game.

The quarterback situation was plagued by inconsistency and injuries.

Three players, all rising juniors, saw action under center, led by Shon Mitchell, who threw for 1,281 yards and six TDs. But he has competition this spring from Ted Hefter (424 yards, 2 TDs), Dean Rotger (157 yards, 1 TD) and Brandon Battle.

“We’re going to have, coming out of spring, a No. 1 and a No. 2. We’re going to identify who that is,” London said. “We’re not going to have a 1, 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D.”

There are two other quarterbacks on the Tribe’s roster, but London said the four listed above have gotten the most reps in spring practice.

“I’d like to see those guys get enough reps (in the spring game) where they see at least some of the things we’ve done already,” London said.

After Saturday’s game, which is slated to start at about 7 p.m., the team won’t have any more official practices until August. However, the time between Saturday and early August is crucial.

“To be honest with you, summer school and the ability for the players to be here, it’s going to be pretty important,” London said. “In football nowadays, if you’re not training at least the whole second session of summer school … going into camp, it’s a tough deal, particularly when you’re playing two FBS schools.”

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