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New-look Titans plan to pass first

New coach Mike Bradley brings a frantic offensive and defensive philosophy to Tech.

By JOEL POILEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2002


New coach Mike Bradley brings a frantic offensive and defensive philosophy to Tech.

TAMPA -- You might not recognize the swarming high-energy style of play employed by Tampa Bay Tech this year.

The Titans will still feature fast, quick athletes such as Romae Rucker, Nigel James and Maurice Crum who can make big plays all over the field.

But instead of running out of the wing-T and basic defensive sets, new coach Mike Bradley believes in an up-tempo basketball mentality of pressing the opposition into mistakes on both sides of the ball.

Bradley, 38, inherits an 8-3 team that qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons with former coach John Colbert, who left in the spring because of health problems.

"I'm fortunate because the program is in good shape," said Bradley, getting his first crack at a head coaching position after a 14-year career as an assistant in Louisville and the past two years at Durant and Armwood. "The kids were a little taken aback by the changes at first. But once they bought into what we're trying to do, they see it's a fun brand of ball to play."

THROUGH THE AIR: Bradley is waiting for unproven juniors Tim Shaughnessy or Micah Brown to take command of his new offense, but it won't affect his throw-first philosophy.

"I think it's easier to throw than run, especially when you don't have big linemen," said Bradley, who worked with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Chris Redman in high school in Louisville. "Unlike some coaches, I like to run off the pass.

"I'd rather throw a quick slant and have a kid run 80 yards than try and hand it off all the time. We like to spread the ball around and make people chase us."

Shaughnessy watched Tyrone Timmons take the snaps last year, and Brown played on the junior varsity. Bradley likes their athleticism, however, and thinks either can run his offense.

Whoever wins the QB battle will have speedy targets to aim for in seniors Rucker, who runs a 4.5 40-yard dash, Yuri Higgins and junior Fabian Bolen.

ON THE GROUND: A host of backs will touch the ball in this offense. But Crum and senior Albert Daniels will be the starters. They will also catch the ball on short tosses out of the backfield. DEFENSE: Envision the Chicago Bears of 1985, when defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan unleashed a pack of wild dogs each week and terrorized the NFL on the way to a title.

The Titans will start in a 4-6 front, but no player will be deeper than 7 yards from the line of scrimmage. In other words, quarterbacks beware.

"We like to pressure the line of scrimmage and blitz a lot," Bradley said. "No doubt it's high risk. You can get burned. But we try to make the quarterback make a great throw to beat us. That doesn't happen that often in high school, that's why I believe this defense works."

Bradley will utilize cornerbacks Rucker and James, who have the speed to cover man-to-man and blitz.

Speed is the key, with defensive ends Andy Jamison and Stephen Tripp joining linebackers Crum and Chris Plumley as part of the blitzing frenzy.

THE BIG GAME: Jefferson, Oct. 11.

"King's always a big game because of the neighborhood rivalry," Bradley said. "But Jefferson is one you circle because of how good they've been in recent years and the district implications."

TAMPA BAY TECH TITANS

AT A GLANCE

COACH: Mike Bradley (first season).

ASSISTANTS: Marc Boswell, Lafayette Colvin, Laykeye Cooper, Mark Gimberling, Charles Gunn, Scott LaRue, Tim Melton.

COLORS: Navy blue, red and white.

STADIUM: Titan Stadium, 6410 Orient Road, Tampa.

CLASS: 4A, District 8.

PLAYOFF HISTORY: 2000, 2001.

LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Lakewood 21-20.

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