Longview Scrimmage Reveals Stingy Defense + Promise of Physical Offense
LONGVIEW -- Fans of Lobo football have only been able to speculate about their 2014 team since the end of Thanksgiving break.
Ask anyone in this football-crazed environment and they'll tell you the sky is the limit for this upcoming squad. At the same time, there are some question marks to overcome.
Tuesday provided an opportunity to see the Longview football team in its most primitive form via an intrasquad scrimmage in the middle of spring football workouts.
The preliminary conclusion is the sky is the limit. But there are still some question marks to overcome.
"I think you find out a lot about your football team from a physical standpoint and a schematic standpoint," head coach John King said. "You're able to make some adjustments over the summer and hopefully when you show back up in August you have things lined up where they need to be."
Just for starters, the Lobos lost extremely talented players in defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson, receiver Dorian Leonard and safety Travon Howard to graduation. They will play major college football.
Henderson already has a spring under his belt at Texas A&M while Leonard and Howard will walk the stage in May and then move onto the Texas and TCU football teams, respectively.
Rising senior running back and Baylor commitment JaMycal Hasty, meanwhile, is largely unavailable because his 4x200 meter relay team qualified for the UIL state championships in Austin. Additionally, quarterback Dezmond Chumley wrapped up his junior baseball season less than a week ago and is adjusting his throwing motion back to football.
Other players were held out with minor health issues ranging from tweaks to fevers.
The scrimmage was, unsurprisingly, basic.
Longview's offense lined up in its power formations and sprinkled some shotgun into the mix. The defense ran simple plays in straightforward packages.
That's fine by the coaching staff because if you can't run the basic then you can't broaden the playbook.
"We're going to be a physical football team and we've been under center for quite a while," King said. "We've got more in our package. Going back to the lineup changes, we're short with depth at receiver due to injury and illness. We've got a couple of new offensive linemen. We tried a little bit of it and saw the resolve. We just wanted to simplify it and get a positive feeling about our team."
The staff has to feel good about its strong defensive tradition.
The Longview defense controlled the pace of the scrimmage early with a strong front, clean pursuit angles and good tackling. Throwing into the flats didn't yield a lot of yardage after the catch, and stretching the defense wasn't a clear option between solid defensive back play and the offense's status entering the day.
"We were reading our keys and just attacking," defensive back and rising senior Shaun Lloyd said. "That's all the coaches have been emphasizing in the film room. Reading our keys and then attacking it in the open field."
A power run game will inevitably wear a defense down and gains usually increase as the game moves on. Alternate running back Tylan Miller, a rising junior, and 240-pound fullback Marquies Hunter were always loads to bring down. Once the down field blockers figured out what the Lobo defense was giving them, the scrimmage leveled out.
"We're not going to be a one-man show," King said. "We do have a very talented player in JaMycal Hasty and he will be a very important part of our scheme, but it will take 11 guys on the field together to make it happen."
If and when Longview's offense returns to full strength, Tuesday was a very good sign of what the team can do as a whole.
"We can run," King said of his defense. "Our structure is such that we've got safeties that form alleys and we've got interior players who can run to the football. Communication was good, their alignments were good, their attitude and their effort and all those things were great."
The Lobos' spring game will be played May 16 at 6 p.m. inside Lobo Stadium.
Dezmond Chumley is integral to Longview's success on the football field and on the diamond.
He wrapped up his junior baseball campaign Friday and is now entirely focused on spring football.
The trick is going to be the arm adjustment it takes to throw a football rather than a baseball. He was the baseball team's first option at right field and pitched in several critical games.
"Just keeping your elbow higher is the real trick," Chumley said. "In baseball you can throw from wherever, but in football you have to keep your elbow higher. It feels a little funny right now with shoulder pads on. It's a little difficult, but I'm going to get used to them."
There's not much of a concern here. Quite a few East Texas quarterbacks play baseball and even reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston makes the transition on a semi-annual basis.
Chumley threw for 2,241 yards and 33 touchdowns to just five interceptions last season as a junior after playing baseball as a sophomore.
The only goal is to get his football numbers higher in perhaps his final campaign.
"I thought we did OK today," Chumley said. "We can always do better though. We've just got to do our assignments better and do it faster and we'll be alright."
Longview isn't a team looking to establish itself. It's just trying to get everything in place for its first state championship since 1937 with more than a handful of powerful teams and NFL-caliber players passing through the school since.
That's not a fact lost on the quarterback.
"It feels good to start working toward it," Chumley said. "There's a lot of weight on our shoulders, but we can exceed all the expectations. We can do way better than everyone thinks we can."