While Grapevine head football coach Randy Jackson has a pretty good understanding for who will fill the key offensive skill positions, the spring season is still considered a work in progress for both his offensive and defensive lines.
The Mustangs are preparing for their spring game on Friday at Mustang-Panther Stadium. While it doesn’t appear questions will be answered, Jackson would like to have the picture much clearer when fall workouts begin in August.
“We’ve gotten better as the spring has gone on,” Jackson said. “We have been moving some guys around to find the right combination. We have some ideas but there’s a lot more we have to do.”
However, one position that may be solved is center. That appears to be Tanner Gibson’s. Gibson recently finished with the baseball season and was expected to return to team workouts over these last two weeks.
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There is some size and possibilities raised with the emergence of junior Keyshawn Simmons (6-2, 290). Simmons can play guard and center. Aaron McManus (5-11, 230) played on the defensive line with the junior varsity in 2014. He can play both tackle and guard.
“When you’re replacing four guys in the offensive line, you’re just not going to know what you’re going to get until you scrimmage [against Denton Ryan],” Jackson said. “I’ve been real pleased with Aaron. His footwork is pretty good. He’s really coachable and continues to improve.”
A nose for it
For any 3-4 defensive scheme to be successful, it has to start with a powerful nose guard. Jackson thinks he has it with junior Brian Andrews (6-0, 195).
Throughout the spring, Andrews has been imposing his will in team drills and individual drills. It’s no secret that Grapevine’s defense needs to take a big step in 2015. After allowing at least 29 points to their first five opponents last year, pressure up front has to change the results.
Andrews’ name should be familiar since he is the reigning Class 5A state wrestling champion in the 195-pound division. Andrews went 46-0 in matches on the mat. He appears to be continuing that streak on the turf.
“We’ve really had a hard time blocking him,” Jackson said. “He’s had a great spring because he’s got great feet and has explosive hands. That helps him have a knack for the football. He’s very disruptive.”
One of the better defensive end options could be junior Jack Carbonari (6-0, 200). Jackson calls him a mature player who is very technical with his game. Jackson is also expecting production from junior defensive end Jordan Thomas (6-1, 200).
Jackson reiterated that this team continues to work on its tackling fundamentals in taking players to the ground. In the past he said he’s been concerned about injuries and impacting depth. However, he really wanted to have this team ready.
While the first two weeks are for installing all of the offensive and defensive packages, Jackson said, the last two weeks are for fine-tuning. Plus, Jackson wants to stay away from injuries. Fortunately, there appears to be nothing major at this point …. Mustang-Panther Stadium is having a new field turf surface installed. Although the weather has played havoc with the work schedule, there was hope the turf would be installed and ready for play by the spring game. If not, the game will be held at Cross Timbers Middle School.