VMI set to face stiff challenge in Davidson in fall opener

VMI AthleticsDavidson, under coach Scott Abell, the former head man at Washington and Lee, ran for an FCS-best 280.7 yards per game in the spring on its way to the Pioneer Football League championship.

That’s the challenge that VMI and coach Scott Wachenheim face on Saturday in the season opener at Foster Stadium.

“Their offense is outstanding, and Scott’s been running this offense for a long time,” said Wachenheim, who got to know Abell well during his time in Lexington at W&L from 2012-2017.

“They’ve got two very gifted, talented running backs that run downhill and have great vision, and they’re tough to tackle,” Wachenheim said. “Big, strong offensive line, very physical, come off the ball and knock you back, and a big tight end as well that comes off the ball and knocks you back. A very talented receiver corps when they throw the ball, which isn’t often, but they’re dangerous because you can get up there overplaying the run with your secondary and lose sight of the receivers.”

The offense revolves around the two tailbacks – Dylan Sparks (82.0 yards per game in the spring) and Coy Williams (74.4 yards per game in the spring).

Louis Colosimo, a redshirt senior, takes over as QB1.

“He really throws a good ball,” Wachenheim said. “Watching this high school tape from Florida. He’s got strong arm, he’s accurate. I think he’s got good top end speed, not really a make you miss type of guy that you see in the option offense, but if you don’t take the quarterback on the option, he can take it all the way to the end zone.”

Defensively, the Wildcats mix cover three and man free, “making it very difficult to tell what covers they’re in,” Wachenheim said.

Which should be a challenge for the VMI Air Raid passing attack led by sophomore QB1 Seth Morgan (1,374 yards, 10 TDs in the spring) and SoCon Offensive Player of the Year wideout Jake Herres (80 catches, 978 yards, 10 TDs in the spring).

“Their corners and safeties do a great job midpointing the ball, and all of a sudden you throw that deep ball down the field, they break on it, and it’s tough to get a big gain and even though you think you got it when you let go of it,” Wachenheim said.

VMI is coming into the fall off a SoCon championship and the program’s first-ever playoff berth, and with a preseason Top 25 national ranking.

For the first time in decades, the Keydets enter a season with expectations.

“I think it’s exciting to have people respect you and have confidence in your team’s ability. I don’t think there’s any weight to it all,” Wachenheim said. “You know, we are going to move forward. We’re going to stay on the attack. We’re going to keep hunting. Kangaroos only move forward. We’re not looking back. There’s a reason why the windshields bigger than the rearview mirror. Our eyes are focused forward.

“Last year was great. We celebrated a couple weeks ago with a great ring ceremony. The kids were all smiles, but you know, we’ve got to move forward,” Wachenheim said. “We’ve got a great season here, and as all mutual fund prospectus is say, past performance is not a predictor of future results. So, we’ve got to go out there and earn it this year.”

Wachenheim seems ready to go out and throw a block himself.

“I’m looking forward to the first kickoff. I can’t wait,” Wachenheim said. “The anticipating to the start makes coaches think about everything. Did I cover this, did I cover that, is the team ready Did I make the right decision here? Did I make the right decision there? How’s this young man playing his first game going to play? How’s this team going to gel? Are the playmakers still the playmakers?

“There’s so many unanswered questions when you start a new season, but once the game gets going once, once the ball is kicked in the air and you’re out there, you’re in the flow. The next thing you know, the game is over. So, just right now to kick off takes forever, it seems like, but I look forward to just kicking it off.”

Story by Chris Graham

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