New Offense and Attitude Has Morehouse Football Excited About 2017 SeasonDate Released: July 31, 2017
BY ADD SEYMOUR JR.
When the Morehouse football team hits the practice field Aug. 4 for the start of fall practice, things won’t look like they did at the end of the 2016 season.
With a new assistant coach, a new offense and a different kind of spirit around the football program, the season is looking to be a promising one, despite the Maroon Tigers being picked to finish in fifth-place in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s East Division, said Morehouse’s head football coach Rich Freeman.
“It definitely motivates me because I don’t see fifth-place talent when I look around our locker room,” Freeman said. “And I definitely don’t see fifth-place coaching when I see the experience on our staff; and I don’t see fifth-place scholarship resources as our institution invests in grant-in-aid so we can go out and bring in good players.
“We don’t have everything we need, but we have what we need to be a lot better than fifth-place,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that happening.”
Last season, the Maroon Tigers finished 3-7, largely because of an offense that sputtered despite having lots of talent, a defensive secondary that gave up way too many big plays, and inconsistent play on special teams. All of those issues have been addressed during the offseason.
Five Maroon Tigers were chosen for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s preseason All-Conference team announced in July – linebacker David Smith, tight end Ryan Edwards and kick returner Ricci Nuckles made the first team, while defensive linemen Antonio Johnson and Voris Bryant were named to the second team.
Freeman’s staff recruited a new kicker to help the special teams play, while added emphasis in recruiting and coaching is being put on shoring up the secondary, he said. That will help what is already one of the SIAC’s top overall defenses.
The biggest change has been the hiring of Harry Williams as the team’s new offensive coordinator. Williams, who was at Langston University last season, brings a spread offense that scored nearly 41 points a game and helped Langston lead their conference in scoring last season.
Gone is an offense heavy on reads and intricate blocking schemes. Now, the Morehouse offense will be one that is more aggressive and will spread the ball all over the field.
“With Coach Williams, he’s brought in a bunch of new looks and he kind of reinvented the spread look, and interspersed some power into it,” said quarterback Kivon Taylor. “So, it’s a new look. The conference hasn’t seen this look. Now, we have an offense designed around our strengths.”
It’s an offensive scheme that has ignited a sense of enthusiasm in the entire team, Freeman said.
“We had an exciting spring practice,” Freeman said. “Not just reinvigorating our offense, but our entire football team. We needed success and a lot better tone. We’ve gotten that tone, in a football perspective, back during that 15 days of spring practice and I’m excited.”
Edwards said this is also an important season for the Morehouse seniors. They are looking to show the entire Morehouse community – students, alumni, faculty and staff – that football at Morehouse is in great shape.
“We have a lot of pride in Morehouse,” he said. “We know that Morehouse is not the biggest football or athletic school, but with this new offense and the type of defense we have, we’re looking to make some noise in our conference and looking for different types of people to come to the games. That’s what it’s about – fans and support – so we’re going to give it to them.”
The Maroon Tigers open the season on Sept. 2 at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and then host Lane College on Sept. 9.
For more about Morehouse football, go to http://athletics.morehouse.edu/index.aspx?path=football.
Last Modified: July 31, 2017, 14:07 PM, by: Synera Shelton