2008 Livingstone Football: The offense

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 28, 2008

By Nick Bowton
Ask any football coach what basic things a team needs to do well to win, and you’ll hear “run the football” somewhere on everyone’s list.
Second-year Livingstone coach Lamonte Massie knows that, and he’s taken steps to ensure the Blue Bears can run the ball in 2008 after they struggled mightily to do so last season.
In Massie’s first season, Livingstone scored three rushing touchdowns and averaged 30.6 yards per game and 1.1 yards per rush, both totals the lowest in the CIAA. So what did Massie do?
He hired Clifton Davis as his running backs coach. Davis coached at Virginia Union last season, and Union led the conference in rushing yards per game with 225.9.
“In the CIAA, if you stop the run, you can be successful,” Massie said. “Or, if you have a great running game, you will be successful. You can ask Virginia Union. That’s why we hired their running backs coach.
“He’s got a challenge in front of him to figure out who’s going to be the starting running back.”
The likely candidates are senior Rashaad Flucker, who’s been at Livingstone all four years of his career, and freshmen Lakeem Graves, William Graves and Tyler Witter. Each of those freshmen rushed for at least 1,500 yards as a high school senior.
The Blue Bears also added 6-foot, 230-pound tailback Miles Harris as a late recruit out of Florida, and Linwood Jenkins provides a big-play threat as a tailback/receiver who transferred from Kent State.
“If there’s an area that is probably our strength right out of the gate,” Massie said, “it’s our running backs.”
That stable of backs, of course, will need the offensive line to block better than it did last season.
Kyle Blackwell (6-2, 270) and Salisbury High product Yancy Fields (6-4, 298) return as starters, and Thomas Walker (6-2, 315), Kyle Shaper (6-3, 300) and Justin Norton (6-4, 320) all transferred in.
Those new faces on the line could be joined by a new quarterback, as former West Rowan High standout Bryan Aycoth is with the Blue Bears this season. After the Blue Bears’ final scrimmage Saturday, Massie said he still hadn’t determined whether Aycoth or returning quarterback Steven Williams would start.
“They’re still kind of tied,” Massie said. “They both do so many good things. Steven is a lot sharper than he was last year, is a little more knowledgeable of the offense, but Bryan is very athletic. He’s coming along, learning the system. He’s a quick decision-maker.”
Massie said he’d like to settle on one starting quarterback rather than go with a two-QB system, and whoever he chooses will be throwing the ball to an overhauled group of receivers.
Along with Jenkins, the Blue Bears’ receiving corps includes freshmen Chris Peoples, who went to Mooresville, Kerry Hammock and Travis Allen.
Massie said Allen, who’s listed as a 6-4, 210-pound tight end, has “the best hands on the team. He can catch it all.”