For Troy Anderson Tuesday’s 7-on-7 football scrimmages featuring teams primarily among the Big 10 Conference was unique in one big way. It was all but a certainty that the returning Bridgeport High School quarterback would be throwing more passes this afternoon at East-West Stadium in Fairmont than he would be the entire 2012 football season.
When asked if thought that was the case, Anderson laughed.
“That’s probably going to be true,” said Anderson with a smile.
Of course, the lack of passing Anderson will do this year has nothing to do with his ability to be a passing quarterback. Rather, for anyone who has sniffed football in this area knows, the Indians aren’t going to be throwing the ball more than a few times a game any time soon.
Need proof about the lack of passing? Consider this: Anderson started all 13 games in 2011 for the Indians. His final totals were 18-of-39 passing for 358 yards with three touchdowns. What that means is that BHS averaged three passes per game from the starting quarterback (the team attempted three other passes with different individuals for a grant total of 42 passes).
Bridgeport’s opponents know that the Tribe will likely not be passing. The fans know that. The Indians’ coaching staff knows that. Most important, the players know that. Anderson is not an exception to this generally understood knowledge. Because of that, he’s totally comfortable with the real benefit of the 7-on-7 drills the three-week summer practice session focuses on.
“This is really more for the defense and it helps us prepare for passing attacks,” said Anderson. “Still, there’s a benefit for us offensively because it helps our guys and myself have the ability to read defenses if we have to pass.”
Coach Josh Nicewarner doesn’t try to use coach speak when addressing the Indians’ plans as it comes to perhaps opening things up. Quite frankly, it’s not going to happen.
“I’m not against throwing the ball, but you’re not going to see us do it as a game plan. Everyone we play knows it,” Nicewarner said. “I’ve been watching these drills today and you see dropped passes and then you see the problems an interception can cause. I know a fumble can cause those same problems, but it’s not a stretch to say less bad things happen when you can run the ball.
“They have always said there’s three things that happen when you throw the ball, and two of them are bad,” Nicewarner said, referring to incompletions and interceptions. “That’s one of the reasons we run.”
It’s also one of the reasons the Indians may seem like a cat at a dog show during the summer practice sessions. The Indians, for the most part, aren’t able to address their offensive strength, which is the grind-it-out running game that comes as a result of using the stick-I attack. Because of that, Anderson and Nicewarner know the guys on defense get the benefit of practicing against the spread attacks the Indians will see throughout the year.
“Seeing so many teams with wrinkles in their passing games is good for us to go up against. At the same time, teams see what we have as well so that may cancel that benefit out,” Nicewarner, whose team was to play said. “It helps to work against these offensive schemes and we’ve seen the benefit from that, but as far as passing a lot here and changing our offense because of these 7-on-7 drills, it’s not going to happen. We’re staying status quo.”
One thing Nicewarner does enjoy about having Anderson return this year is that he provides a team that lost a boatload of senior starters from 2011 with leadership qualities. That should bode well for a team that will have plenty of new faces on the offensive side of the ball.
“Troy’s going to be a good leader,” said Nicewarner. “That’s honestly among the least of my worries this year.”
Anderson said he’s looking forward to the added responsibilities involved with having new guys looking to him for guidance. The year of experience, he said, will also be beneficial.
“I’m comfortable assuming that role and want to keep everyone in the game and keep everyone focused. Last year was a bit nerve-wracking at times, but this year I’m much more comfortable and really look forward for the chance to lead.
“I know that I’ve got some great running back behind me and some key linemen back,” Anderson continued. “We all know that we go into every season with great expectations and it’s up to us to exceed those expectations.”