Offense experimenting, grinding toward spring game
When Rich Scangarello was hired as the new NAU offensive coordinator in mid-March, the Sacramento State alum knew he was inheriting some talent and experience, allowing for a smooth transition.
So far, so good, for the new coach, as his offense has performed well during the spring session and Scangarello believes the team is ready for the fall to arrive.
“Its been a great spring,” Scangarello said. “We have been able to install most of our offense and get a good understanding of it. More importantly, I’ve been able to evaluate the strengths of each individual. Plus, we’ve come out pretty much unscathed, which is always important.”
While most of the offense remains the same in terms of player positions and systems, there is one new wrinkle that Scangarello has made. Senior receiver Austin Shanks, who sat out all of this past season with a hamstring issue and received a medical redshirt, has been put in the backfield.
“Unfortunately, Zach [Bauman] got hurt early in spring,” Scangarello said. “Austin stepped up and it was very revealing in a positive way. I had no idea what he was capable of as a runner. By giving him that experience, I was able to see what he can do and now we’ll be able to showcase that talent.”
Shanks knew he would be able to fit into that role early on, basing that off previous experience.
“I feel like I’m a natural runner,” Shanks said. “That’s where I played in high school and it feels good to be back there.”
However, he does not care where he is lined up, just as long as its wherever he is “going to get the ball.”
Shanks’ fellow runningback, Bauman, has been keen on the competition level leading into this weekend’s spring game.
“Competition has been real high,” Bauman said. “We’ve had a couple scrimmages. Defense has got the offense and offense has got the defense at points. Everyday, we come out here and just try and compete.”
Now the attention turns to this Saturday’s “Blue and White” spring game, which is a chance for the players to get some work in a game-type atmosphere in front of fans.
“We’re just excited to be in a game environment,” Bauman said. “We’ve been going at each other for so long, it’ll be great to put on for the fans and see what we’ve got for next season.”
The spring game will take place on the fields east of the Walkup Skydome and is open to the public, with festivities begining at 10 a.m and the game scheduled for 11 a.m.