Fans and family will get to see the new football team for the first time since Pete Mangurian took over as head coach on Friday, when the Lions take the field in their annual spring football game.
The controlled scrimmage is usually an opportunity to see the underclassmen play for the first time without the company of the graduating seniors. This year, in addition to serving as a proving ground for the younger players, the scrimmage will be Mangurian’s stadium debut since taking over last fall following the release of then-head coach Norries Wilson.
The coaching switch came on the heels of a 1-9 season. The Lions finished the year tied for last in the Ivy League with Princeton, and narrowly escaped a completely winless season, edging out Brown 35-28 in double overtime in the final matchup of the season.
Throughout the fall, the Light Blue struggled to maintain consistent play on both sides of the ball. This Friday is the team’s chance to show off the improvements that the revamped coaching staff has brought.
Though Mangurian insists that he “won’t know what our team looks like until the freshmen get here,” he has been working hard to re-evaluate and redesign the team for greater success.
Mangurian and his staff have been re-evaluting players within the context of how they perform in the new environment, rather than relying on existing film to set up the team. So far, he is “encouraged by our front seven on defense,” as well as the team’s play on special teams. But that the team still appears to be struggling with its offense.
One big issue the Lions hope to improve is the offensive line’s ability to protect junior quarterback Sean Brackett. Despite having strong individual players, the offensive line was inconsistent throughout the season, with opposing teams tallying 30 sacks against the Lions. Brackett himself struggled with injury throughout the season, even sitting out the team’s midseason matchup against Dartmouth.
Tonight’s game will thus serve to give coaches, players, and fans an opportunity to see the new team in action in a more competitive setting.
“We really haven’t been in a game setting yet with them,” Mangurian said. “It’s really going to be a chance to have them out on the field with no coaches out there with them.”
In addition to being without coaches, the players will be without this year’s graduating seniors, including offensive lineman Jeff Adams, defensive backs A.J. Maddox and Ross Morand, and wide receiver Mike Stephens. With these and the other 20 graduating seniors not in uniform, the spring game will be a preview of the names and faces that will step up in the fall to carry the team.
The spring game is set to start Friday at 6 p.m. at Baker Athletics Complex.