Coming off an appearance in the Division II national championship game, the University of West Florida Argonauts wrapped up drills on Saturday, with the annual Blue-Green spring football game. WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody was there.
About 1,000 fans, in folding chairs and on blankets, watched the Argos’ take Pen Air Field, exiting from the brand new University Park Center clad in Blue and Green jerseys.
To call it a “game” is something of a misnomer. This was a controlled scrimmage, with about 80 plays to be run in the 90-minutes allotted. It also served as a training session for a number of Gulf South Conference officials.
Thirty-seven points were scored by the two squads, but no formal score was kept. Such scrimmages are more about evaluating players, and getting an idea about what to address when fall camp opens in August.
“I like where we’re at, I really do, really on both sides of the ball,” said Head Coach Pete Shinnick, who added that many of the projected starters this fall were not suited up on Saturday.
“I think we had six guys out on the first-team defense, and six guys out on the first-team offense,” Shinnick said. “So to get the number of [repetitions] and the quality of looks; we had an interception for a touchdown. We had a couple of [offensive] touchdowns and we had some nice sacks. [I] really liked what I saw and good energy on both sides.”
One of the starters sitting out was quarterback Mike Beaudry, who’s recovering from hip surgery after playing most of last season with the injury.
“[We] took him back to Nashville where he had the surgery about ten days ago; they felt great about where he was at, they’re excited about what they’re seeing,” Shinnick said. “He’s actually throwing right now, just can’t take drops and run.”
Beaudry is expected to be ready for the season.
Unlike last spring, when the Argos were coming off an inaugural 5-6 campaign and off everyone’s radar, they enter 2018 expected to occupy one of the top three positions in the pre-season polls later this summer. Shinnick says it’s a great way to start the year.
“We expect that, and what I told our guys is ‘enjoy that moment’ but that’s where we want every year,” Shinnick said. “We want to be looked at as one of the top programs in Division II. And really, that was one of the reasons to come to the University of West Florida. Because we felt like we had that opportunity.”
Although there will be no on-field activity, the UWF football program is not going dormant for the summer. Players will undergo off-season training, some will attend classes, and the coaching staff will determine how best to approach the 2018 season – which kicks off Thursday, August 30 against Carson-Newman at Blue Wahoos Stadium.