tampabay.com

Depth deprivation

The second-year Rams will try to make the most of their abbreviated roster, getting players focused on building a program and chemistry.

By ADRIEN De MARTINI
Published August 25, 2006


TAMPA - In only the second season of football at Tampa Baptist, coach Dennis Duggan is trying to improve on last season's 2-8 record.

After working under Billy Turner at Chamberlain for two years with a full roster, Duggan enters this season with only 19 players. Duggan knows the going won't be easy, but says his players have a lot of heart.

"I want to instill dedication, desire and discipline into these kids," Duggan said. "I want to see them pushing to compete and bond as a team. We have some talented kids, but now we just need to get them to buy into our system."

The Rams will rely on senior linebacker Morgan Gibson to lead the team on defense.

In the Rams' first season, Gibson led the team in tackles while switching duties at fullback.

"Morgan is our workhorse," Duggan said. "He has got a lot of fire in him when he gets out on the field."

THROUGH THE AIR: Running the offense is senior quarterback Luke Johnston.

Duggan plans to get sophomore defensive back Phillip Plant some playing time behind center as the season goes on.

"Our passing attack really depends on how our quarterbacks advance," Duggan said. "We will only pass about 20 percent of the time."

Senior Joe Plant and junior Matt Reynolds will be Johnston's main targets.

ON THE GROUND: The Rams will run mainly out of double slot and some power-I formations. Senior Eric Smith (6-3, 260) will anchor the offensive line at guard.

Duggan has a lot of confidence in freshman receiver Chris Lundy.

"He has a chance to be a big-time player," Duggan said. "He is young, but has really good speed."

Gibson will switch fullback duties with sophomore Cliffton Culliffer. Running back Matt Reynolds will use his speed to complement Lundy on the other side of the backfield.

DEFENSE: After using the 4-4 in all of his years coaching, Duggan has decided to switch to a 3-5.

"With only five big guys, I have to find a way to get them rest throughout the game," Duggan said.

"If we can stop the run and force the pass, we can leave it up to our quick little guys to fly around and make plays on the ball."

The Rams will count on Gibson and Smith to stop the run. Johnston will have his hands full at quarterback and leading the young defensive secondary.