Lafayette Football Nearing End of Spring Season
April 13, 2009
EASTON, Pa. - With just three practices remaining before the annual Maroon vs. White Spring Game on Friday night at Fisher Stadium, head coach Frank Tavani took time out to give a team update.
"I am pleased with our progress so far during the spring," Tavani said. "A lot of our young kids have had an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to play on the varsity level, and that's what's important about the spring.
"We've had a lot more live scrimmaging during this spring season," Tavani said. "We held a 40-play scrimmage and a 50-play scrimmage, and we'll play run about 75 plays on Friday night."
Offensively, one of the most important factors in the team's success will be the quarterback position, which is a three-way battle between senior Rob Curley, junior Marc Quilling and sophomore Ryan O'Neil.
Curley posted a 3-1 mark as the starter down the final stretch in 2007 and went 6-2 in starts for the 2008 season. The senior completed 57 percent of his passes in 2008, finishing 121-for-212 for 1,424 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Curley entered 2008 at the top of the depth chart and started the first eight games of the season before suffering an injury in the Colgate game in week eight.
Quilling made the most of his opportunities in 2008, starting the final three games. He completed 59 percent of his attempts (45-for-76) while throwing for 555 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. His standout game came in his first start against Bucknell when he was 17-for-26 for 274 yards, the highest single-game output for either QB in 2008.
O'Neil has seen limited game action, but brings a skill set equal to that of Curley and Quilling and continues to challenge them for the starting spot.
"Right now, it's a three-man race between Curley, Quilling and O'Neil. (Offensive coordinator) Mickey (Fein) and I have talked a lot about what we're going to do going forward in 2009, but we still have a great evaluation tool coming up with the spring game."
The future quarterbacks targets are not quite set either, but Tavani is excited about a group of five receivers which had stood out in the spring.
"Mark Layton, Mitchell Bennett, Nathan Padia, Greg Stripe and Kyle Hayes are all young receivers who are going to be in the mix for us. They have had excellent spring seasons and are able to better focus because they know they will be the guys with the playing time in the fall."
On the offensive line, Tavani and first-year offensive line coach Stan Clayton are looking to find some depth along with three-year starters Ryan Hart-Predmore (left tackle) and Mike Wojcik (center). Brian Wycinowski also returns as a starter at left guard.
"Anthony Buffolino is really maturing as a (rising sophomore) and has had that opportunity because Joe Moore is out with a medical redshirt," Tavani said. "Mike Eck has made the move from defensive line to offensive line, and through 11 practices he has shown great progress and gives us some much needed depth."
At linebacker, the coaching staff and defensive coordinator John Loose have seen Nate Dixon, Ben Eaton and Leroy Butler get new opportunities and challenge for playing time. Mike Schmidlein has cemented himself as Andy Romans' '08 replacement at WILL linebacker in the Leopards' 4-3.
Lafayette has three practices remaining before the Maroon vs. White Spring game. The Leopards will practice from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday with the spring game set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Fisher Stadium.
Attendees to the spring game are encouraged to participate in a bone marrow testing drive that will be held prior to and during the Maroon vs. White Spring Game. The screening will be held on the plaza outside of Kirby Sports Center in the Fisher Stadium complex from 5 to 9 p.m. Lafayette is one of 26 colleges spanning nine states in the screening process which targets potential donors from ages 18 to 60.
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