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VMI Football: Keydets look ahead to Feb. 20 season opener

VMI AthleticsWe’re within three weeks of spring football, with VMI opening on Feb. 20 at noon at Chattanooga.

Spring football is spring football in name only. The Keydets had their first preseason scrimmage over the weekend.

Snow was on the ground, and more was on the way.

“I like the fact we got a lot of snaps in today and got to stay out there for six to eight play drives. It was our intent to test the conditioning of the team and our team is in great condition,” coach Scott Wachenheim said. “I like the fact that we got all our special teams units snapped and additionally we got to work on four-minute offense and defense – a situation where the offense has the lead late in the game and the defense is trying to get the ball back. I think we learned a lot of lessons from that we’ll be able to teach moving forward.”

VMI, like most of the rest of FCS football, decided in the fall to move its 2020 season to the spring.

The Keydets will play an eight-game schedule – four home, four away. The home opener is Saturday, Feb. 27, against Furman.

For reference, the high temperature in Lexington on Feb. 27, 2020, was a balmy 40 degrees.

But it can be nice on Feb. 27 in Lexington: 61 degrees back in 2018, 64 degrees in 2012, 67 degrees in 2011.

Maybe this isn’t as crazy as you think.

The challenge is getting ready in the here and now.

It helps that Wachenheim has a solid nucleus back from the 2019 team that went 5-7 overall and 4-4 in SoCon play.

Most significantly, VMI returns the two-year starter at quarterback, Reece Udinski, who threw for 3,276 yards and 19 TDs in 2019, his second straight season throwing for 3,000+ yards.

Udinski was an efficient 9-of-15 for 73 yards and a TD in the scrimmage on Saturday.

The TD connection was with junior tailback Kory Bridy, who will team up in the backfield with true freshman Grant Swinehart, a tough inside runner who scored on a 15-yard run in the scrimmage.

“I think the passing game is coming together really well,” Wachenheim said. “We’ve had some receivers we’ve limited due to minor tweaks, but we should be full strength Monday of next week. We’re learning how to throw and catch in cold weather and that’s a different ball to throw and a different ball to catch and our kids are fighting through and doing a great job and we’re getting better every day.”

Wachenheim also likes the progress the defense is making one week into preseason practice.

“I love the intensity level of our defense. I love the leadership. I think Eric Weaver (defensive lineman) is doing a great job of leading and I think Stone Snyder (linebacker) has stepped in and is doing and great job at mike linebacker and defensive back Josh Sarrart is back 100 percent healthy. He’s just a football junkie and a coach on the field. And Jordan Ward, whose character is the best I’ve ever been around, his leadership on defense has been awesome. It’s the most leadership on defense that we’ve ever had and I really like the way that unit is coming together.”

Story by Chris Graham


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