Things learned, observed around Nile C. Kinnick football camp
No question, the Red Devils have the offensive line and running backs to make a dent, but can the defense, special teams hold up their end?
-- It might be possible for Nile C. Kinnick to lose its finest running back in nearly a decade, Dustin Kimbrell, who graduated last spring, and somehow become better.
-- That’s because of an offensive line that has improved as the players have gotten big. They’re a year older, a year wiser and they average more than 200 pounds across. And there are nine of them.
-- Last time the Kinnick line averaged more than 200 pounds, the Red Devils went 9-0 and won their second of four straight Kanto Plain titles, in 1996.
-- A perfect recipe for coach Dan Joley’s option offense, which sliced and diced a pair of Japanese teams during Saturday’s preseason scrimmage.
-- Nice gift dropped into Joley’s lap: Florida senior transfer Marcus Boatwright at running back. A different kind of back than Kimbrell, who was explosive and powerful; Boatwright has better moves.
-- Boatwright pairs up nicely with holdover Quinton Holden, who began last season under center but is now one of two halfbacks. The two also present a dangerous pairing on special teams (note to opposing teams: you might want to kick away from them).
-- Dustin Wilson looks to be finding himself under center, and he’ll be around for another year, as will much of this underclass-laden ballclub.
-- That retreat to Camp Fuji did more to bond this group than anything else in recent years, coaches say. And the parent support, we’ve not seen since the days of the Football Fanatics back when the Red Devils were winning four straight Kanto Plain titles. Community involvement is back.
-- The team’s Facebook page is loaded with images. L-O-A-D-E-D. Part of that community involvement.
-- Will all this mean Kinnick’s first victory over Yokota since Oct. 16, 1998? “I think we match up well with Yokota,” Joley said.