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Dartmouth fleshes out roles in final football scrimmage

  • Defensive lineman Tobi Adedara jumps to try to block a pass by quarterback Dylan Cadwallader during Dartmouth's intrasquad scrimmage at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news / report for america photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Dartmouth defensive end Dylan Lacroix, center, cheers during an intrasquad scrimmage at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • From left, linemen Calvin Atkeson, Shane Cokes and Griff Lehman and linebacker Jalen Mackie compete in Dartmtouth's intrasquad scrimmage at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H., on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/9/2021 10:37:40 PM
Modified: 9/9/2021 10:37:49 PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth football wrapped up preseason camp Thursday with its second intrasquad scrimmage at Memorial Field.

Unlike the first get-together on Saturday, which involved working through various game situations in drives, this one was played more like to a real game. Scores were followed by kickoffs, punt results determined field position and the clock mostly operated as it would in a normal contest. The Big Green played three 15-minute periods, with several more plays with no time on the clock after the final stanza.

Dartmouth now turns its attention to its season-opening game at Valparaiso on Sept. 18.

Here are some takeaways from Thursday’s scrimmage and general notes:

Cokes has game-changing potential: One of Dartmouth’s standout performers throughout preseason camp has been junior defensive lineman Shane Cokes. He came up with one of the biggest defensive plays on Thursday, recovering a fumbled handoff by junior receiver Jamal Cooney.

Cokes has displayed his physical strength and ability to get to the backfield and blow up plays during preseason. Dartmouth defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Don Dobes wasn’t surprised by Cokes’ strong play. He said the coaches could tell during spring practice that Cokes did a good job of training and improving.

Dobes is eager to see how Cokes fares in real games, as he has little experience in game action. Dobes said he needs to improve at using his hands to shed blocks. But he said the junior has potential to be an impact player on defense.

“He has all the skills that you want in a defensive lineman,” Dobes said. “I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player. He has the talent someday to be one of those elite guys, but he’s got a long way to go right now.”

Cokes will be one of the linemen Dartmouth leans on a little more early in the season, along with fifth-year Seth Walter, senior Mick Reese and senior Luca Di Leo. Dobes said the Big Green use a defensive line by committee, rotating through a group of 10 to 12 players.

Fifth-year team captain Tanner Cross and senior Jalen Mackie will form Dartmouth’s inside linebacker combination. Dobes said the Big Green will have a “three-headed monster” at outside linebacker, with senior Carson Reich, junior Marques White and sophomore Trevon Erickson.

The pass rush and run defense were much stronger Thursday than they were Saturday. Head coach Buddy Teevens was pleased with the way the defensive line collapsed the pocket and forced the quarterbacks to escape.

Stability in the secondary: The defensive backfield was a strong point on Thursday. The offense converted only three big-yardage pass plays all game, and they were mostly well-defended.

“I thought their coverage was excellent,” Dobes said. “I think that’s the best we’ve seen this preseason as far as our man-to-man coverage and our communication. I felt like we did a really good job of blanketing the receivers today.”

Dartmouth returns multiple starters in the secondary, giving Dobes a group to rely on early while younger players get more experience.

Senior Landon McDermott made the other big defensive play Thursday, intercepting a pass in the end zone on second-and-goal. He and fifth-year captain Niko Mermigas should be steady forces at safety.

Dobes said junior Quinten Arello will also factor in. Senior linebacker/safety hybrid John Pupel made several good plays Thursday and will be a key cog in the Dartmouth defense.

Graduate student DeWayne Terry Jr. figures to be the top cornerback. Senior Isaiah Johnson returns after a season-ending injury in 2019 and has looked good during preseason. Junior Tyron Herring has also impressed the coaching staff, and senior Robert Crockett III will see plenty of playing time as well.

Some question marks on special teams: Dartmouth’s punters have competed for the starting job throughout camp, and the winner is still unknown.

Thursday’s scrimmage didn’t provide any clarity. Freshman Davis Golick, junior Cameron Baller and junior Zach Drescher each punted multiple times, and all three had opportunities both with and without a rush. All had mixed results Thursday and throughout the preseason.

Teevens said he may not decide on a punter until midweek.

“It’s eeny-meeny-miney-moe right now,” Teevens said. “Consistency is the thing that we need, and right now we’re not there yet. It’d be nice for someone to just step up and take it.”

Senior placekicker Connor Davis didn’t kick in either of the scrimmages. Teevens said the team has exercised caution with Davis and isn’t overly concerned about his status. He expects to have Davis back in full ahead of the Valpo visit.

Baller and junior Ryan Bloch handled placekicking duties Thursday, though their opportunities were limited. Each made an extra point, and Baller came up well short on a 42-yard field goal attempt. Teevens expressed comfort with his reserve options, saying either could be a capable placekicker if needed. Baller would handle kickoffs.

Cadwallader steps up: Fifth-year starting quarterback and captain Derek Kyler didn’t play Thursday due to what Teevens called an insignificant injury. Junior Nick Howard and sophomore Dylan Cadwallader handled the majority of the snaps at QB.

Howard appeared set as the No. 2 quarterback during the preseason, but the third-string role was up for grabs. Cadwallader seemingly took control of that job with sharp play Thursday. He was a spry runner and made good throws both in the pocket and on the run.

Cadwallader would’ve been a junior this year, but he took a gap year in 2020 and was away from the program during the entire school year. Teevens said Cadwallader arrived a little bigger than expected. He’s been impressed with the sophomore.

“He has a good grasp of the offense,” Teevens said. “Obviously, he worked hard at it. His grasp and memory from when he was last on campus has been good. We’re pleased with his progress.”

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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