Spring camp wraps up with Blue-White Game
Delaware’s spring practice came to a close on Saturday with the annual Blue-White game — the final chance for players to showcase their skills until next fall.
Awards were given during halftime when Head Coach Danny Rocco greeted the fans and announced next year’s captains. The awards consisted of “Most Improved on Offense,” which was given to current sophomore offensive lineman Collin Wallish, “Weight Room Champion,” which was awarded to Troy Reeder, who will be a redshirt senior next year, and “Most Improved on Defense,” which Reeder also received.
“I take a lot of pride in the most improved,” Reeder said. “It was a surprise to me, but Coach Rocco said something to me that I understood. I just kind of hope that I can be an example that you can get better even when you do think you’re decent. There’s always strides to be made, but it’s just nice to be recognized, and there’s a lot of guys that could’ve been recognized too.”
Reeder, a first team All-CAA linebacker last season, led the team in tackles with five or more solo tackles four separate times last season, leaving many to wonder where he could possibly have improved.
“There were a couple things that he knew he had to work on,” Rocco said. “And I mean day one in spring ball me and Coach Rojas were like ‘Oh my gosh look at that.’ He corrected the things he needed to correct. We wanted to be able to recognize that.”
Rocco announced that next year’s captains will be Reeder, linebacker Charles Bell and once-quarterback, but now wide receiver, Joe Walker.
Walker played the 2015 and 2016 seasons as quarterback and started the first five games last season but then took a backseat to transfer J.P. Caruso before transitioning and playing other offensive positions throughout the rest of the season. This spring game, Walker didn’t don the red jersey like the other quarterbacks, solely focusing on his somewhat new role as wide receiver.
“I feel pretty good; it comes from the help of the other receiving core,” Walker said. “My goal is never change. A National Championship is always the goal no matter where I’m playing on the field; gain 100 pounds, play O-line, that’s what I’ll do. I’m committed to the Blue Hens and us being successful.”
The spring game was played offense against defense with a modified scoring system, where different accomplishments were awarded a certain amount of points. Both halves consisted of a seven-on-seven drill and then a four-series scrimmage, to which Rocco added a fifth series both times. The final score was 46-44 with the offense — or Blue team — taking the win. The defense was led by defensive back K.C. Hinton with five tackles, linebacker Armen Ware with four tackles and two sacks and Reeder with four tackles and one sack. Only one touchdown came out of Saturday’s game — 26-yard toss by transfer quarterback from Boston College Darius Wade to wide receiver Vinny Papale.
The offensive team was split into two teams with Wade on the first and backup quarterback Pat Kehoe on the second. Caruso, who played 10 out of 11 games and started six last season with an injured shoulder, was limited throughout spring practice as he was recovering from surgery. He participated in the seven-on-seven part of the game, but sat out for the scrimmage which Rocco later explained; “We didn’t want to come out here and push anything and set him back in anyway.”
Similar to last season, the end of spring camp raised a question about who the starting quarterback will be. Kehoe, who has always been in the quarterback mix as a backup, had a strong spring camp according to Rocco. He threw eight for 12 with 74 yards in the game and Rocco “feels good about his future.” However, it seems the two quarterbacks who will be battling it out this season are Wade and Caruso.
Playing as the first team quarterback, Wade started the first series in both halves and played both fifth series that Rocco added. In the scrimmages, he completed six of 11 passes for 58-yards and threw the one touchdown pass.
“For me, my biggest goal during the spring was to continue to grow and get better,” Wade said. “Now being in more of a game atmosphere for the first time with these guys, there’s some things we definitely need to improve on, but the good thing is the game isn’t tomorrow. We have all summer and fall camp to keep preparing and getting better, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The Hens will start preseason in late July and open up their season at home against Rhode Island Aug. 30.
“I think the thing is just the ability to take a step back and look at the big picture,” Rocco said. “When we looked good, we really looked pretty good. I think we have a high ceiling on both sides of the ball and we showed glimpses of that today.”