MONROE-Radi Jabour's 35-yard field goal as time expired gave the White Team a 21-19 win Saturday afternoon in Todd Berry's first Spring Game as Head Coach of the Warhawks.
"I was pleased," Berry said. "I think the kids had a great time and that was the most important thing. Sometimes you just get wrapped up in all of the other things that you forget you are out there and playing football. I just told the kids that I wanted them to go out there and have a great time.
"Of course we were very limited in the playbook because we didn't want to show a lot of things but I thought overall the game was pretty well executed all around. I don't think that we are where we need to be right now but in the same sense I did think that we are further ahead than I thought that we would be. This team has a very good chemistry and they play well together. I am excited about where we are at. We have a long way to go."
With offense going up against the defense throughout the game as opposed to splitting the teams, the scoring system was adjusted for Saturday's contest as the offense got six points for a touchdown, three points for 20-plus yard plays and a point for three consecutive first downs. The defense meanwhile was able to earn a point for a three and out as well as for a lost yardage play to go along with three points for a turnover and six points for a touchdown.
Troy Reffett's defensive unit stole the show early on as the Maroon squad had one three and out to go along with five tackles for lost yards and seven sacks. Junior Ken Dorsey had the big play for the defensive unit as the Alabama native intercepted Trey Revell and returned it for a touchdown.
"That was a fun thing to do," Dorsey said of his interception. "Obviously that is something that rarely happens for a defensive end. The ball was thrown in my direction and I did my best to catch it.
"Coach Berry and the new staff that he has brought in are really off to a good start in my opinion. He has a lot of energy and he is doing a lot of good things. I think we are on the verge of really starting to build something special here and we are going to win a lot of games. We don't have a lot of superstars on this defense this year so the coaching staff has really stressed about us coming together as a group and if we are able to do that we will have a lot more success on the field."
Offensively Berry's unit along with his new offensive coordinator Steve Farmer accounted for one touchdown from Kolton Browning to Isaiah Newsome from 20 yards out to go along with three explosive plays (20+plus yards) and two times of three consecutive first downs on drives.
"I thought offensively all three of our quarterbacks (Revell, Browning and Cody Wells) all had their moments," Berry said. "That kind of has been what has happened all spring. Competition is a wonderful thing and as people saw today all three guys can do some good things. That will only make us better as an offensive unit and in turn a football team.
"This is very much a quarterback driven offense so there is a lot of pressure on them on the field and in what they are trying to learn intellectually. I have coached quarterbacks for a long time and these three guys have all made huge strides mentally already. We have just have to continue to close that gap because right now most of our mistakes aren't physical; they are mental mistakes."
While he wanted to see execution improve on both sides of the ball this spring, the first-year coach said the biggest thing he wanted was for all of his players to get an understanding of what they were trying to do.
"What we wanted our players to do this spring was wrap their arms around everything that we were trying to teach them," Berry said. "That means that if we had to go out and play a game tomorrow we could functionally do that. We could have taken the approach of we were just going to get good at some basic stuff and then learn the style in pre-season camp. We didn't decide to do it that way.
"We threw it all out there and let them see the whole broad paint stroke. That allowed us to start finding our identity for this team this year more quickly. We were able to do that and I truly believe that we are much more comfortable now then we were early on. I credit the players and the coaching staff for being able to get that accomplished so quickly."
The Warhawks open up the season on Sept. 11th when they play host to the Razorbacks of Arkansas in Little Rock.