Call it a vision into the future. A glimpse at what is yet to come. A look ahead at the season ahead. As the Cowboys took the field for the 2016 spring football game on Wednesday at Buddy Echols Field, coaches, fans and players alike got a chance to take a look into the talent on this roster in the upcoming season, including a receiving corps that returns only one varsity player from last season.
After senior receivers Josh Fink, Obi Obialo and Jarel McGill graduate along with senior tight end Drew Smith, current sophomore quarterback Brady McBride is throwing to an entirely new group of pass-catchers this year. In the game, McBride looked comfortable with the new squad, and was able to hit several receivers down the field for big gains.
“This year, we really focused on getting better in the off-season,” McBride said. “Me and the receivers come up every morning, and try to get some timing and chemistry between us. It’s really going to help us out during the season.”
On the other hand, a defense that returns many starters in the linebacker corps and defensive backfield looked strong from the start. As a returning starter, junior linebacker Eric Loop played strong run defense both up the middle and running down outside runs, and junior defensive backs Austin Weathers and Joe Fex (both of whom did not start at the position last year) made several nice plays on the ball.
“On both sides of the ball, those guys are real comfortable,” Coppell coach Mike DeWitt said. “Anytime you can play a year and get a year under your belt, it’s going to help you mature as a player. Not just obviously physically, because you’re a year older, but the mental part [as well]. We’re excited.”
While the defense saw some great hits from sophomore defensive back Justin Dinka and junior defensive back Jaryon Busby, one of the top plays of the game came from the offense. With time running out in the “running clock” second half, junior wide receiver Spencer Hicks took a screen pass and broke several tackles to gain ten yards, picking up a first down. Then after a last-second change of play, Hicks caught a fade with a defender draped all over him to score what was the game-winning touchdown.
“[Coppell wide receivers coach Nate Blackwell] came up to me and, the play was for me to run an eight-yard stop, but he said ‘just [run a fade]’,” Hicks said. “The quarterback threw it up, and I went up and made the play. There was nothing much to it. I just didn’t think about it too much, and tried to go get the ball.”
Hicks was just a highlight of a spring game that featured a multitude of spectacular plays. If the Cowboys are able to showcase their talent in the regular season like they did on Wednesday night, the 2016-2017 season could be something special.