New Era At VSU
By Ryan Lazo, Sports Editor
Sep 24, 2013, 20:46
ETTRICK — The Virginia State Trojans marched onto the Rogers Stadium grass for their 2013 home opener against an undefeated Kentucky State University squad Saturday afternoon. However, a game which seemed daunting at first glance, did not have the feel of one.
On both the Virginia State sidelines and in the stands, there was a quiet confidence in the stadium.
Now, it could be the 10-3 mark the Trojans have posted at Rogers Stadium in their last 13 home contests. But it also had to do with the man in charge of the VSU squad on the sidelines — Latrell Scott.
Scott was a member of the University of Richmond staff when numerous offensive records were broken, including touchdowns and wins, before being tabbed head coach in 2010, making him the youngest Division I head coach in the nation at the time.
And it certainly did not take long for the Trojans’ fans to see why his hire was met with a great deal of promise for a future of success.
In the opening quarter, VSU tallied 21 points on the board, their most scored in a quarter in nearly two seasons. Yet, the effort still did not fulfill the demanding expectations of Scott.
“I’d say it was the best first quarter and best third quarter because we didn’t do anything in the second quarter at all,” Scott said after assessing his team’s 41-0 victory. “We had 14 penalties in this game and we had only eight the whole season. I thought we came out and took advantage of turnovers and were able to stick to our game-plan.”
They didn’t just stick to the game-plan, but they executed at the highest of levels.
Following a defensive stop, forcing the Thorobreds into a three-and-out, the VSU offense took control of the game with an opening drive statement. The Trojans were able to dominate the line of scrimmage, picking up some key runs through the creases.
Then, facing a key first-and-goal, quarterback Justin Thorpe executed a perfect quarterback draw play to march into the end zone for the Trojans first points. On the next drive, Scott dialed up a play-action call and Thorpe fired a 33-yard strike to Gene Holloman for the second score.
Yet, the dual-action threat was not done yet.
Thorpe stood in the pocket and quickly went through his reads — everyone was covered. Utilizing his mobility, Thorpe instinctually took off on a scramble which resulted in a 28-yard rushing touchdown, giving VSU the commanding 21-point lead.
“One thing that (Scott) does that I love, he fits the offense to what I like to do,” Thorpe said before a team meeting. “He sits me down, we look at the plays and he says if there’s anything I’m not comfortable with, we’ll take it out. A form fitting offense is hard not to be successful in.”
And that’s what has made Scott the perfect fit for a team looking to re-establish themselves as contenders after capturing the CIAA crown in 2010.
He’s instilled a culture at a program which already had the pieces to be successful, but just needed the few tweaks to get it rolling in the right directions. In fact, Scott made a comparison to taking an old car to the mechanic.
“Andrew Faison is a great football coach … there was a model already in place,” Scott said of the VSU program. “What we did as a staff was implement our ideas … It’s like you buying a car. Someone else may have driven the car a different way, but you take it to a mechanic and get things done with it. It’s paid off so far.”
While it has been only three games, the improvements are easy to notice. The Trojans captured a stirring 29-28 victory at Fayetteville State, coming from behind in the second half, before playing a better game than the score indicated in a 30-14 loss to Benedict at Metlife Stadium.
But numbers also don’t lie.
The offense averaged just 19.5 points per game last season. Through three games, the Trojans are averaging 28 points per contest. Call it the Scott effect which has also shown its results on the practice field.
“From practice to everything, it’s all been uptempo,” Trojans cornerback Sean Smith said. “We have to run to everything. Last year we ran but it wasn’t as intense, even the punishments, everything is D-I. It’s a huge difference.”
Yet, it also helps to have playmakers on the field.
Scott’s offense is complex. It both attacks the opposing team’s weakness while also playing to his own team’s strengths. It takes a certain type of player to be able to execute those strategies and he has that in his trigger-man behind center.
“It makes it easy,” Scott said of Thorpe. “When he’s on his game, I think he’s one of the best in the country … It’s pretty fun to watch when he gets going.”
When he gets going, so go the Trojans as fans saw during Saturday’s rout. It’s a result that may foreshadow the capabilities this VSU squad has under the direction of a motivated Scott as their leading-man.