State Colleges

May 8, 2014

Butler football works to get offense back in high gear

It’s probably not fair, for a team that finishes ranked No. 6 in the country, to nitpick.

It’s probably not fair, for a team that finishes ranked No. 6 in the country, to nitpick.

But this is Butler Community College football, so nitpicking is allowed.

So about that offense.…

“We didn’t score points in a lot of games like how we’re used to,” Butler coach Troy Morrell said. “So it’s a matter of what we do now and where we go from here. It leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth and we’ve tried to fix it by going out and recruiting size and speed. Our group is definitely motivated to go out, build on our tradition and add to it.”

The Grizzlies went 9-2 last season and won their fourth straight Jayhawk Conference and Region VI titles, but the two losses and a closer look at the offensive numbers show where things went from being a great to a pretty good season by Butler’s standards.

It’s also what the Grizzlies have been trying to fix headed into their annual spring game on Friday at 7 p.m. in El Dorado.

“(The spring game) will look like a game at different times, then at others it’ll look a lot like a practice,” Morrell said. “I think it’s fun for us to have people there. The kids love it and the fans can kind of see some football in the offseason as everybody’s changing gears and getting ready for summertime.”

Butler will be changing gears at quarterback this fall as starter Hunter Vaughn transferred to South Alabama after struggling in his one season leading the Grizzlies (1,755 yards, 18 touchdowns) and heir apparent and Bishop Carroll product Zeke Palmer surprised the Butler coaching staff and transferred to NCAA Division II Washburn after his freshman season.

“It caught everybody off guard,” Morrell said. “I think he felt like (Division II) was a good level for him to be at. Kids come here to figure out what level they can get to and that was what he felt like fit him.”

The Grizzlies saw a drastic dropoff in overall production on offense from 2012 to 2013, going from 55.5 points to 38.9 points per game, which still led the Jayhawk. Total offense went from 508.3 yards to 392.7.

The biggest fall was in passing offense, where Butler went from 284.5 yards to 209.6 yards. Vaughn threw for just 97 yards in a 23-21 loss to Highland on Sept. 21 in El Dorado and threw for 232 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in a 6-0 loss to No. 3 Iowa Western in the Graphic Edge Bowl.

The starting quarterback spot seems to be in the hands of Deer Creek (Okla.) High product Joel Blumenthal (6-foot-1, 190 pounds), a dual-threat star in high school who redshirted last season.

Morrell admitted he was spoiled with a three-year run of likely high NFL Draft pick Zach Mettenberger (LSU), Chandler Whitmer (Connecticut) and Billy Cosh (Houston), with Mettenberger and Cosh leading the Grizzlies to the NJCAA championship game.

“(Blumenthal) is the leader right now, he can throw and run both,” Morrell said. “We might land another (quarterback), but you never know what will happen. Having Zach and those guys, we were definitely spoiled and we struggled last year at different times. We need to find more consistency at that position.”

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