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Seeking Offensive Balance, Choctaws to Air it Out More in '22
MC quarterback DeAnte Smith-Moore may have as much responsibility as any player in the fast and physical Gulf South Conference
The Gulf South Conference hosted its 2022 football media days last week, and the Choctaws were represented by ninth-year head coach John Bland and junior quarterback DeAnte Smith-Moore. Here are the three things Choctaw fans need to know going into this football season.
QB is Key
Bland has repeatedly said throughout this offseason that he intends to move to more of a pass-friendly offense. While their identity as an option team isn’t going away anytime soon, MC’s play in the spring game and subsequent comments from Bland suggest the Choctaws will strive for a more efficient pass game this season. Last season the Choctaw offense would often only line up in shotgun formations in 2-minute situations or 3rd-and-long, and they often struggled when they did.
Bland stressed how important Smith-Moore will be to moving the offense forward. “If he was a new quarterback it may be a little too much,” Bland said. “DeAnte is not, he's been there.”
With the offense looking to add to the playbook next season, the change will mean additional responsibilities for Smith-Moore who is ready for the challenge. “I’m very excited. I’ve been waiting to get the green light to put the ball in the air a little bit more.”
Option quarterbacks are already relied upon heavily, and with these offensive changes, Smith-Moore is poised to have as much responsibility as any player in the GSC. Choctaw coaches are confident Smith-Moore is ready to handle these responsibilities.
Fast and Physical
Bland wants this year's team to be fast and physical, and much of this style of play hinges on the effectiveness of new strength coach Brian King. With three years of experience in the MC strength and conditioning program, King has no shortage of familiarity with the Choctaws. However, King has adopted his own style of doing things, and Bland expressed excitement about the production that they will see due to his work.
Another new addition to the staff that has generated buzz is defensive line coach Lorenzo Jackson. Smith-Moore was very complimentary of Jackson’s work saying that people should be on the lookout for this group. Smith-Moore said the unit looked improved in the spring due to some of the new talent in that position group and the work coach Jackson had put in. “It's definitely going to be a sight to see,” Smith-Moore said.
In addition to the media day festivities, the conference also released its coaches’ poll and all-conference selections. In the coaches’ poll, the Choctaws are projected to finish sixth, which would be an improvement over last year's seventh place result.
Two Choctaws were recognized with selection to the preseason All-Conference Team: defensive back Nicholas Walker and long snapper Cody Myers.
Walker, a senior from St. Louis, Mo., was a standout at cornerback last season, missing only one game. He totaled 29 tackles with two tackles for loss. Walker also had three interceptions with two pass breakups and a forced fumble as he led a Choctaws defense that ranked fourth in the conference in total points allowed.
Myers, a senior from Pelahatchie, Miss., stood out on special teams after transferring to MC following stints at the University of Louisiana and East Central Community College, where he also started at long snapper.
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