Osan hopes hang on bulked-up line, new QB
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea – Gregory Yi might not look like much in terms of physical stature. It’s what’s inside the book’s cover that has coach Don Tusha of Osan Cougars football excited.
Yi was a late addition to the team last fall and wasn’t able to contribute much during the winless 2014 campaign. But the then-freshman offered an indication of what he could do athletically come the spring by tossing a no-hitter and helping pace the Cougars baseball team to a DODDS Korea title.
Tusha, the second-year Cougars coach, is hoping Yi’s success on the diamond can translate onto the gridiron as Osan looks to snap a 16-game regular-season losing streak dating back to the 2011 season.
“He’s a good athlete,” Tusha said of Yi. “He’s not really big, but he has an accurate arm, he’s calm, he’s collected, he doesn’t get rattled easily. If we can keep him healthy, we’ll be competitive.”
Yi will begin the season Friday under center and in the shotgun of the Cougars’ hybrid double-wing/spread-option offense, which kicks off the 2015 campaign at home against Humphreys; kickoff is 7 p.m.
While Yi and his running back mate, senior Chris Moore, are new to Osan’s roster, the line is chock full of familiar faces – the entire line returns, on both offense and defense, and averages 205 pounds across the lines, tackle-to-tackle, Tusha said. “One of them is 225, another is 210, the others are right at 200,” he said.
“They’re also stronger,” Tusha said of his charges, three of whom were on the mat for Osan wrestling a year ago “which was pretty successful.”
Anchoring the line is senior Eugene Williamson, who’s joined by linemates Kai Chatfield-Kinjo and Christian Schmitz, among others. Senior Aaron Misner will see time at a variety of positions, Tusha said, anywhere from line to safety to running back and even quarterback from time to time.
But as with all Division II teams in the Pacific, while each possesses a solid 11 on both offense and defense, there’s not much behind them, Tusha said.
“We’re still small, small in numbers,” he said, adding that Osan should field about 21 on its roster. “We’ll have a lot of kids going both ways.”
Toward that end, Osan spent much of the first two weeks of workouts on conditioning and weight training, and Tusha has the Cougars working on hurry-up plays on offense at times. “We’re definitely going to go fast,” he said.
Key will be that first game against the Blackhawks, in which Tusha said the Cougars would experiment and try different things, especially on offense.
“If we stay healthy and don’t have any injuries, we’ll be competitive,” he said, adding that he’s realistic enough to know that “injuries are part of the game. As long as they don’t get put down for three to four weeks, we’ll be OK.”