MIAMI - Balance on offense and a strong pass rush on defense proved to be the standout performances during Northeastern Oklahoma A&M’s 90-minute intrasquad football scrimmage Saturday, April 21.
The scrimmage served as a prelude to the final "big show" at 6 p.m., Thursday, May 3 when the Golden Norse will play their Blue-Gold game to determine what players will return for the July summer workouts.
"As a coaching staff, we learned quite a bit from Saturday's scrimmage," first-year head coach Zach Allen said. "First and foremost, it was a very physical, aggressive 90 minutes.
"Then we learned that our offense could be very balanced between the run and the pass. We had some receivers that stepped up and which quarterbacks would step up and execute what we wanted," Allen said. "We also came to the conclusion that we are further along in managing the offense."
Redshirt sophomores Nycholas Burns, Clayton Sims and Guy Meyers, along with redshirt freshmen Jarrett Buol and Joshua Shim, alternated through the 110-play scrimmage.
"It was a good day because we are still proving we can run the ball and we've got a lot of good depth in a lot of key places," Allen said. "In our league (Southwest Junior College Football Conference) it's a proven fact, that if you can run the football and rush the quarterback, you can have a lot of success.
"We did both of those things really well Saturday," Allen said. "So I'm getting more and more excited about what this team can do."
Responsible for success of NEO's ability to run the football were redshirt sophomores Darran Williams and Micah Cooper along with redshirt freshman James Brown.
"Darran is a returning starter while both Micah and James have really come along this spring," Allen said. "Our biggest asset going into the fall will be our ability to run the football on a consistent basis.
"Our interior offensive line also showed a lot of talent and depth," Allen said. "They did a great job of creating lanes for our backs to run throw and they also showed a lot of physicality."
While the offense showed a lot of versatility and some consistency, the defensive front seven and the secondary did a good job of applying pressure and forcing the offense to improvise in certain situations.
"Quinton Lee, Laron Stokes, Forrest Merrill and Caleb Colvin right now are our front four," Allen said. "I think each of them are going to be pretty tough to handle for most people.
"Another area on defense that showed promise was the secondary," Allen said. "We found more depth at all four positions than we knew we had."
Going into the July summer session, Allen and his staff will focus on creating a cohesiveness and camaraderie on both sides of the football.
"It's a goal of mine that after the spring scrimmage, each one of these kids understand exactly where they stand going into the summer," Allen said. "So we'll sit down with each player and discuss their future possibilities."