Lyco offense struggles in opening scrimmage

It wasn’t exactly crisp, but a week into preseason camp, Lycoming head coach Mike Clark wasn’t expecting to see a finished product when the Warriors took part in an intrasquad scrimmage Thursday at David Person Field.

The first-team offense and defense played only about 15-20 snaps apiece yesterday, so it’s not as if there was a chance for quarterback Tyler Jenny and the offense to get into a rhythm. And playing without three potential starting offensive linemen didn’t seem to help the problem much.

“We would have loved to have been more productive,” Clark said. “I think we’re skilled enough, but to be out there today without one starting guard, maybe two, and potentially three starting pieces, is tough. A couple guys we’ll be getting back soon will help us.”

Jenny, who enters his third season as the Lycoming starting quarterback, completed 3 of 5 passes for 16 yards, but played only 12 snaps. Lycoming didn’t convert a first down with Jenny under center, and he was sacked twice.

The offensive line was without Matt Bloom who played in all 10 games last year, Austin Mital, who played in eight games as a freshman, and Matt Patterson, who started seven games at left guard before an injury ended his season.

“To an extent you can point your finger at that, but we have a lot of guys returning who know what they’re going or should know what they’re doing,” said Jenny, who threw for 2,038 yards and 16 touchdowns a year ago. “Our defense is very good they’re going to be good again this year, but certainly with the 1s out there, we were a little disappointed. We had a couple good plays, but it needs to be consistent. There are definitely some things that could have been better.”

The bar has been set high for the Warriors. They’re coming off a Middle Atlantic Conference championship, the 15th in the school’s history, which it shared with Lebanon Valley.

Lycoming returns nine starters on offense, losing only receiver Matt Atkinson and tight end Greg Kovacs. And they were held in check by a defense which returns seven starters from a year ago. But the loss of All-American Dwight Hentz, MAC Defensive Player of the Year Kabongo Bukasa, and linebacker Tyler Denike leave the Warriors with some key holes to fill.

It didn’t appear as though Steve Wiser’s defense has lost anything, though. The first-team offense recorded two sacks, including one by defensive lineman Tyler O’Connell. Tim Christopher, who may fill in the starting safety position next to All-American Tanner Troutman, intercepted a deep post thrown by Jenny on the offense’s third possession.

“It’s tough to replace guys like Dwight and Kabongo and Denike, so we still have some holes to fill,” Troutman said. “But I think we had some guys today who showed a lot. Hopefully we can fill in those holes and keep the defense solid this year.”

The offense did get nice production from receiver Cam Kriner, a Montgomery graduate, who caught three passes for 19 yards. Kriner struggled to break into a deep receiver rotation a year ago and didn’t catch a pass as a junior after having a strong finish to his sophomore season.

Clark said there’s an opportunity for Kriner to see more time this year in a rotation with the likes of Ryan Umpleby, John Sibel and Corey Talerico.

“He’s had a nice preseason. Cameron needs to have a role for us, and he executed (Thursday),” Clark said. “We can create some matchups for him because of his size. He’s done that a bit this preseason because there aren’t any 6-foot-5 corners. Listen, we don’t have a 6-foot corner to match his size. We need to be smart about what we ask him to do. But when he can get released and get to his pattern, he provides something different than we’ve had the last couple years.”

“He’s come a long way and had a pretty good camp,” Jenny said. “Receiver might be the deepest position we have and he’s a part of that.”

The second-team offense did score a touchdown on a brilliant 11-yard run from sophomore tailback Blake Bowman to cap off a drive which covered about 60 yards.

Clark wasn’t at all concerned about the defense being ahead of the offense yesterday. He said the veteran groups have gone back and forth all week, and in the end, they’re all working for the same goal.

“The defense was a little more excited in the beginning, and then we didn’t make a first down,” Clark said. “Then we turned it over and the defense got more excited. Defensively we’re good, but offensively we need to move the sticks.”