tampabay.com

Change of heart

After years of near-hatred for the Wing-T, which foes successfully used to confuse Blake defenders, the Yellow Jackets are adopting the formation in hopes of a little payback.

By ROD GIPSON
Published August 25, 2006


TAMPA - Sean Washington has seen enough.

After years as a defensive coordinator trying to beat the Wing-T offense, he will spend his second season as a head coach joining it.

The Wing-T befuddled Washington for years as an assistant, and now he hopes the same formation gives his second Blake team enough offense to make a playoff push.

"You can see the difference," Washington said of spring practices with the newly-installed offense.

"Last year we were trying to make the transition from a passing team to a running team but we weren't where we wanted to be. Now, with our new offensive coordinator (Chad Lee) we are getting there. He's really a key."

Washington is optimistic the new offense can have the Yellow Jackets looking more like the team that opened the '05 season with two wins in three games and closed the year with two solid victories instead of the squad that dropped five straight contests in the middle of the year.

"A lot of those games just got away from us," he said. "And sometimes that happens when you're a new coach trying to create a foundation. When you're trying to create an identity, sometimes little mistakes can happen and games get away from you."

THROUGH THE AIR: Integral in Washington's revamped offense is newcomer Mark Mosquera, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior quarterback. When Mosquera does throw, receiver/wingback Jeremy Blount (18 yards per catch last season) will be the main target. Wingback Renaldo Muldrow and tight end Ryan Davis also will be utilized.

ON THE GROUND: The Wing-T will highlight the running game, and several Jacket ball carriers in the process.

Along with Muldrow and occasionally Blount, Otis Wilson and Mike Hopps should see plenty of carries.

Williams, in fact, averaged a respectable 4.4 yards per carry last year. Problems could come in the form of an inexperienced offensive line, however; guard Tyrone Grimes is the lone returning starter up front.

DEFENSE: Blake has seven returning starters, which should be a boon to a unit that gave up an average of 33 points in its six losses last year. Wilson and Muldrow return to bolster the secondary, along with senior Lance Diggs.

But the key to the unit could be Frank Scott's switch from defensive end to middle linebacker.

A 6-foot, 215-pound senior who led the Yellow Jackets in sacks last season, Scott's speed and tenacity should help in the middle of the field.

He'll be joined at linebacker by Bryant Freeman, who struggled with injuries a season ago and was limited to one game.

"We've lost a little on defense," said Washington. "But we still have ability and the guys we have played well at times last year. We're going to come out and play hard and see where that takes us."