Boulware satisfied with Rams’ football progress this spring

Boulware satisfied with Rams’  football progress this spring
April 16
00:00 2015
(Above: Photos by Craig T. Greenlee- Michael Bloomfield (40) anchors the Rams defensive line.)

Springtime is in full swing, and the start of the next football season is still five months away. Even so, expectations are high at Winston-Salem State University. Rams followers got a glimpse of the not-so-distant future at the annual Spring Game played last Saturday, April 11 at Glenn High School in Kernersville.

The Red team emerged with a 20-16 win over the White team. Quarterback Rod Tinsley delivered the game-clincher with a six-yard touchdown run with less than three minutes left to play in the fourth quarter.

“I’m satisfied with the progress we’ve made,” said WSSU Coach Kienus Boulware, whose team finished up at 9-2 last season. “Everybody was able to get acclimated to our new system.”

The burning question as to who will start at quarterback wasn’t resolved during spring practice. Freshmen Rod Tinsley and Demetrius Lewis showed promise, but neither was able to establish a clear advantage over the other.

For now, it’s a neck-and-neck race between the two. “They’re new and they’re learning as they go,” Boulware said.

With 140 days to go before the season kicks off at UNC Pembroke on Sept. 3, it’s too early to tell what the Rams offensive identity might be. Much will depend on how much the quarterbacks continue to grow in their understanding and execution of the playbook.

What is clear for now is that WSSU will sport a different look on offense. A year ago, they used the pistol formation and averaged 35.7 points per game. This year, they’re returning to the multiple pro-style offense employed during the Rams three-year run in the NCAA playoffs under former coach Connell Maynor.

The formations will vary from the spread look of last season. WSSU will run empty backfield with four wide receivers, but will also run sets with two backs and double tight ends.

“We ran a lot of shot-gun last year,” Boulware said. “This year, the quarterback will be under center a lot more. We want to avoid being one-dimensional.”

Whoever winds up being the starting QB will have a solid offensive line to operate behind. Jac’que Polite (6-feet-5, 300 pounds) is the prime protector at left tackle. The rising junior from Ridgeland, S.C., started out last season on the defensive line, but switched positions midway through the season when it became clear that he wouldn’t get much playing time. Polite uses his size, strength and speed to neutralize defenders.

Don’t be surprised if the Rams become more of a “ground-and-pound” team. Rising senior Tyree Massey (5-feet-11, 235 pounds) is a burly bruiser who does his best work running between the tackles. Massey, however, has the speed to make tacklers miss and break long runs.

WSSU won’t have to depend on Massey to shoulder the entire rushing load. Malik Moseley, a rising sophomore transfer from Old Dominion, will get his share of touches this fall. Moseley (5-feet-9, 192 pounds) is an elusive runner who makes good use of his speed and field vision.

At wide receiver, Canard Brown (Jackson State transfer) has the tools to emerge as a big-play threat. Rashan Williams could also step forward as a key contributor in the passing game.

On defense, look for Winston-Salem State to add some new wrinkles to its base 4-2-5 alignment. During the Spring Game, the defenses on both sides took center stage and combined for six interceptions. For this season, the game plan will call for defense force action more than it has in recent ones.

“We’re going to revamp a few things,” Boulware said. “We’ll play more man coverage on the back end and use more blitz packages up front to generate more pressure on the passer.”

Rising senior Michael Bloomfield (6-feet-3, 245 pounds) will figure prominently in the defensive scheme. Bloomfield’s upper-body strength and exceptional quickness off the ball makes life difficult for opposing offensive linemen. “Any time you talk about our defense, there’s one name that always comes to mind, and that’s Michael Bloomfield,” Boulware said. “Michael is a workaholic and he applies pressure on every snap.”

Inside linebackers Kyrell Williamson and Jaitavius Jackson, along with crafty cornerbacks Kailan Chavis and Cameron Sullivan, are expected to have stand-out seasons.

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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