tampabay.com

Steady does it for Wolves

Many of the key playmakers on both sides of the ball are back for another go-around this year.

By JARRETT GUTHRIE
Published August 25, 2006


LITHIA - Newsome's hopes of improving on last season's 4-6 record could hinge on how effectively the Wolves replenish their offensive front.

According to new coach Kenneth Hiscock, the Wolves will remain with an eclectic offensive mix of the spread and Wing-T.

"Not a lot of things are changing (on offense)," Hiscock said. "We are rebuilding our offensive line."

Hiscock said the Wolves will rely on an experienced defense to control opponents.

THROUGH THE AIR: Senior Keith Gosdoski, who threw for 1,205 yards and 10 touchdowns in the 2005 regular season, returns as starting quarterback.

"We are expecting great things out of Keith this year," Hiscock said. "He's really improved his footwork and he's always had a strong arm. It's gotten stronger over the summer."

The team will look to several players at wide receiver and tight end.

 

ON THE GROUND: The Wolves again will look to diminutive senior Collin O'Connor (5-foot-8, 160 pounds) to be their running back, especially in the spread offense where Newsome will run several misdirection plays to advance the ball.

Hiscock said O'Connor, who ran for 896 yards (4.8 yards per carry) last season, also will be featured as a receiver. Hiscock said O'Connor may deceive opponents who focus on his size and underestimate his abilities.

"(Collin) is not real big," Hiscock said. "But he has got the heart of a lion and will fight for every yard."

DEFENSE: According to Hiscock, the Wolves return several experienced players from a defense that allowed more than 300 yards a game last season.

New defensive backs coach Jason McCarty will have a number of returning players, including junior free safety Rubin Rumph.

Newsome's linebacker corp will include senior Ryan Rodd, junior Sam Johnson (transfer from Indiana) and junior Ryan Gerena.

"We are really solid in the linebacker corp," Hiscock said. "We have some pretty big guys."

The defensive line will be anchored by 223-pound senior end Luke Drake, whom Hiscock said he hopes will lead the team in sacks this season.