Injuries sideline Woerner, McCants, host of linemen
By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (March 29, 2016) — Tarleton State completed the sixth of 15 spring football workouts Tuesday morning, and head coach Todd Whitten says he and his partially new coaching staff are still “seeing what we have where.”
Numbers are part of the problem, specifically along the offensive line.
“We’re down to about nine offensive linemen,” said Whitten, who in December became head coach at Tarleton State for the third time, leaving his position as receivers coach at UTEP. “We have 65 to 68 out total, and we have plenty at some spots but are thin in others, particularly across the offensive line.”
But Tandy stayed, and Whitten is glad.
“He’s the best guy we’ve got as far as explosive plays down the field, and we need those,” Whitten said. “He has a lot of speed and skill and we have to find ways to get him the ball down the field where he can excel.”
Tandy and others have been catching passes thrown primarily by Derek Kiser with Zed Woerner still sidelined following leg and shoulder injuries suffered during the 2015 season. Alex Craig, who led Tarleton to an exciting win at Texas A&M-Kingsville last season, has also seen action.
“Kiser has been the most consistent quarterback so far. He has good arm strength. I didn’t see him much last year, of course, but everyone tells me his arm strength has improved quite a bit, and he has great form back there,” Whitten said. “He’s been our bell cow so to speak at quarterback this spring, for sure.”
Daniel McCants has also not been medically cleared after a leg injury. Veterans Jabari Anderson and Joseph Sadler have been handling the bulk of action at running back.
“I’ve been pleased with both of them. They run hard and they protect when we ask them too,” Whitten said. “They’re both good ballplayers.”
Marcus Patton was hired from Colorado Mesa to take over as defensive coordinator under Whitten.
“I really like what he does from a schematic standpoint on defense, and I like his energy and the way he teaches the game. I can’t see us doing anything but getting better with Marcus involved,” Whitten complimented his new coach. “And he’s got some good players over there, particularly on the defensive line.”
Whitten says it hasn’t been one defensive lineman standing out, but that big plays seem to be coming from across the front. It’s in the secondary where the Texans have concerns.
“We’re young in the secondary so we’re trying to get as many reps for those guys as possible,” he explained. “But that’s what this time of year is all about, trying to be sure we are getting guys in the best position to help us be successful when the season gets here.”
And it’s fast approaching. Tarleton concludes spring ball with a scrimmage-style spring game on Sunday, April 10. Whitten and staff won’t see their team in full gear again until fall camp.
“We’ve got nine more spring workouts, then fall camp,” Whitten noted. “We’ve got a little while but it goes by in a hurry.”