PDT Sports Editor
After a two-game road trip, the Portsmouth Trojans return home to face Gallia Academy before embarking on another two-game trip.
Portsmouth (2-4) is coming off a 54-27 loss at Jackson. Sky Oliver started at quarterback for the second straight week for the Trojans with incumbent starter Brandon Wedebrook still Ailing from a lower back injury.
“He did somethings really well, it was kind of tough on him,” Portsmouth coach Jason Sparks. “We had some dropped passes that ended up being intercepted. We had a couple of turnovers where we were trying to score and our only option late was to throw it deep. He did a really good job running the ball, he made some really good throws on the run.”
Wedebrook was cleared for practice Wednesday but he won’t be playing quarterback this week.
“He will be starting at corner and he will be playing multiple positions on offense,” Sparks said. “He hasn’t gotten a lot of reps at quarterback this week.”
Gallia Academy (4-2) is coming off a 41-19 road defeat in Kentucky against Belfry. In the Blue Devils four victories, Gallia Academy has scored at least 45 points and twice, the Blue Devils have topped the 60-point plateau.
“They are very athletic,” Sparks said. “They are a spread you out type of offense, a lot of one back stuff.”
According to Sparks, the Blue Devils are predominately a pass team but their offense is dictated by a numbers game. If they run trips and the defense only has two defensive backs, they are going to throw the ball every time. If the defense counters with four defensive backs against a trips set, Gallia Academy will run the ball.
To defend the Blue Devils’ passing game and option attack, Portsmouth must be disciplined on defense.
“We’ve got to play fundamental defense,” Sparks said. “We’ve got to be strong in our zones. They are going to do a lot of things differently with route combinations. We’ve got to be solid up front, they are going to run a lot of zone type of stuff. We have to play assignment football.”
When the Trojans have the ball, the name of the game will be protection.
“They are attacking, a lot of blitzing,” Sparks said. “They run a lot of stunts and man coverage. They are very aggressive up front. And they will send backers from all different areas.”
During practice this week, Sparks has had his team working on blitz pickups.
Normally, during a blitz period, the offensive line and defense will work on blitz protection. The quarterbacks and receivers are on a different part of the field working on passing routes.
However, to get Oliver ready for the rush, Sparks has had his quarterback participate in the blitz period.
“We put them in the blitz period so they could see when we call a play, they can see where it (the blitz) is coming from,” Sparks said.
Sparks believes his quarterback will benefit from the extra repetitions.
“We are going to protect five or six,” Sparks said. “These are the guys we are taking care of and these are the guys that are going to be free. If you go here, you’ll be fine. If you go there, then you are running into pressure. We try to show them those things and give them live reps looking at it.”
A lot of Portsmouth’s passing game is set up on one read. If the first read isn’t there, Sparks encourages his quarterback to use his athletic ability to make a play.
“Our offense is pretty simple,” Sparks said. “Every passing play, he’s (Oliver) got one thing he’s looking at and if it’s not there, he has the option to tuck it and go.”
According to Sparks, if the Trojans are going to be successful, they have to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breakings sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.