VMI football closes out preseason camp
VMI football closed out the traditional portion of August preseason camp with a simulated “mock game” workout Saturday at Foster Stadium. Now game week awaits the Keydets.
“We were trying to achieve everything that would happen in a game especially for the young players that haven’t played in a ballgame, yet” said VMI head coach Scott Wachenheim. “We simulate the pregame warmups, the spots where we warm up, we start in the locker room, we do everything just like a game. The way we come out of the tunnel running out on the field through the gauntlet – just want them to do it before we play the first game at Air Force.
With the season opener in Colorado Springs less than a week away, the Keydets used the two-hour workout on the game field to replicate every aspect of game day management and approach.
“I thought today it an outstanding day and the tempo was outstanding, ” said Wachenheim on Saturday’s practice. “The focus was very good. We had very few penalties which was a major importance to me and also the substitutions were crisp and we were getting the play clock snapped under the play clock limit. I thought it was an A+ day and we came out of it healthy and now they have Sunday off. We’ll get back to work on Monday.”
Developing the running game was a key focus of August camp for the offense and Wachenheim says the unit has accomplished what it needed to do in all facets.
“The offense has made tremendous progress. The offensive line truly understands what we are trying to do in the run game. I think Austin Coulling(QB) the last two weeks has improved leaps and bounds. He made a couple of throws today under pressure that were hot throws that needed to be made and that was outstanding. Our running backs are solid, they’re strong in knowing how to set up the run and our receivers are doing a very good job catching the ball.
The defense looks to continue its improvement posted over the last two years and with seven starters returning, Wachenheim looks for the unit to set the tone in 2017.
“I think we’ve come a long way on defense. We’ll know more when we play Air Force and when we come home and play Catawba on where we are in the takeaway standpoint defensively. I think our defense is very solid and they’ve done a great job. They spent all this past week preparing for Air Force, Catawba, and Robert Morris and I think they’ve done a really excellent job of balancing it all.”
Wachenheim indicated they would evaluate Saturday’s video to finalize the two-deep for the season opener.
“There are a few spots that are up to last-minute decision. We’ll go back to the film today and look at it and get the two-deep posted Monday because we have to get the travel squad ready to go.”
The Keydets this past week were busy simulating the look of the option attack of Air Force and Wacheinheim, a former offensive lineman at Air Force who played in the system during his college days at the Academy, served as scout team QB during portions of practice.
“I was an offensive tackle at Air Force and Fridays before games we would have the O-line offense and you had to work your way up to being quarterback and my senior year I got to be quarterback. I just like to relive some of those days. Football is fun. I always wanted to be a quarterback – James Harris was kind of my idol. The progression of a quarterback is you move from quarterback to tight end to O-lineman. I evolved that way.”
VMI will start game week practice for its opener with a Monday workout at 3 p.m. at Fiorini Field. The Keydets will fly charter aircraft Friday from Roanoke in advance of Saturday’s opener against the Falcons in Colorado Springs at 2 pm EDT. The game will be carried on ESPN3.
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