Valdosta Daily Times

Sports

November 8, 2010

Notes from the David Dean radio show

VALDOSTA — — Valdosta State’s football team defeated West Georgia 31-13 on Saturday to retain the Peach Basket and clinch at least a share of the Gulf South Conference title. Blazers head coach David Dean said the Blazers are greedy, and they want the GSC title all to themselves. “It’s like dinner. You don’t want to share a meal,” Dean said.

— Dean said he was proud of his players for responding to some of the different things the Wolves threw at them, especially on defense. West Georgia was coming off of a bye week, so it had a chance to install new wrinkles that VSU hadn’t seen before.

— Saturday was Senior Day, and the Blazers celebrated the careers of 25 seniors. Dean said nine seniors started on offense. The only players who started who weren’t seniors were freshman quarterback Brett Whitmire (the Blazers don’t have a senior quarterback on their active roster) and freshman wide receiver Wilbert Carter.

— Dean said the only two seniors who didn’t play were quarterback Russ Callaway, who is out for the season with a knee injury, and tackle Britt Wilson, who has been battling a concussion.

— Several seniors who started usually play in a reserve role. Dean said they started because the Blazers trust they can do the job. He added that those players have earned the right to say they got to start a game at Valdosta State.

— Dean said that after the game, in the locker room, the players were more excited about winning the Peach Basket than winning a share of the GSC. Dean said he congratulated the team for winning the GSC, and the players “were like, ‘So?’” Dean said they didn’t mean to diminish the accomplishment, but they feel like they have unfinished business, and want to be sole champions of the conference.

— The Blazers ran for 266 yards and only passed for 37 yards against the Wolves. Dean said it’s not that there’s a lack of confidence in Whitmire, but the Blazers were running the ball well, and he didn’t want to get away from that.

— Dean said he thought Whitmire settled down after throwing a couple of early interceptions. He said Whitmire is still young, and is going to make mistakes, but he is maturing.

— Linebacker Larry Dean made one of the plays of the year when he intercepted a pass with one hand and returned it six yards for a touchdown. David Dean said Larry Dean baited a block and the quarterback at the same time, and sniffed out the screen play. Coach Dean said that Larry Dean sees everything, and the game slows down for him, which makes him one of the best players in Division II.

— Stevie Harden also returned an interception for a touchdown. On the previous play, he was flagged for pass interference. Dean said secondary coach Seth Wallace told the referee that he had just called pass interference on the best cornerback in the state of Georgia. Dean said when Harden picked off the pass on the next play, Wallace ran down the sideline yelling at the official that he’d told him Harden was the best in the state.

— Dean also spoke highly of cornerback Matt Pierce. Dean said a lot of people wanted to talk about Pierce last year, about how much he was picked on, but no one seems to be talking about him now, and he’s done a great job. Dean said that Pierce played his best game lined up against North Alabama receiver Jarmon Fortson, who was Florida State’s leading receiver last year.

— Valdosta State safety Harrison Dreiling was named the GSC Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting two passes against West Georgia. Dreiling is the sixth VSU player to be chosen one of the GSC’s players of the week. All six of VSU’s player of the week recipients have come from either the Blazers’ defense or their special teams. Dean said Dreiling, a transfer from Butler Community College, has been a great addition to the team.

— Dean said he is proud of center Jake Thomas and safety Dudley Spence for being named to the academic All-Region team. Dean said getting an education is why players come to VSU in the first place.

— The Blazers have climbed to No. 7 in the Division II coaches’ poll, after being unranked in August. Dean said he didn’t care that VSU was unranked to start the season, and it doesn’t matter much right now, either. He said the only poll that matters is the region poll.

— The Blazers are No. 2 for the second straight week in the Super Region 2 rankings, which decide the playoff seedings. Dean said he thinks the Blazers will remain No. 2 if they beat West Alabama on Thursday.

— The Blazers are probably in the playoffs win or lose, but Dean does not have that mentality. He said the Blazers are treating the West Alabama game like a playoff game.

— Dean pointed to VSU’s strength of schedule. The Blazers beat Wingate and North Alabama, which are No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, in the region. The Blazers also played and lost to Delta State, which is No. 5 in the region.

— Dean called this week hectic. The Blazers are on a short week, with the game against West Alabama coming on Thursday at 8 p.m. Dean said the Blazers practiced at 7 p.m. on Sunday, but there wasn’t enough time to get the whole game plan in. He said the rest of the plan was installed on Monday, and VSU only has today to refine it. He said Wednesday will be a fine tuning day in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

— Dean said the one good thing about playing on a Thursday is that if the Blazers win, they can enjoy having Saturday off.

— West Alabama lost to North Alabama 24-23 on Saturday, after leading 23-3 in the fourth quarter. West Alabama dropped a punt, which led to a UNA score, then the Tigers blew two coverages, which allowed UNA to score twice and take a 24-23 lead. West Alabama missed an extra point early in the game. Dean called it a gut-wrenching loss for the Tigers.

— Dean expects the Tigers to be motivated, despite being out of the hunt in the GSC and the region. It’s the final game for legendary West Alabama coach Bobby Wallace, and it’s also the final game for senior quarterback Deon Williams, who was a running back at Valdosta State as a freshman in 2006.

— Dean said Williams deserves to be mentioned in the race for the Harlon Hill trophy, the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. He said he expects the Tigers to go all out in helping to improve Williams’ stock in his final game.

— VSU will practice at the University of Alabama’s indoor facility on Wednesday. Dean said that as the Crimson Tide are leaving the facility, the Blazers will be entering it. “I hope we don’t intimidate them with our size,” Dean joked.

— The game will be broadcast on GSC-TV Live. Mediacom, which usually airs the game on channel 77, will move the game to channel 5 or channel 11, because of its switch to a digital signal.

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