The plan for Landon Truesdale was simple.
Progress enough at cornerback to give Greg Wallace some breathers during games and play a lot of special teams.
That changed Wednesday when Wallace, the outstanding senior wingback/cornerback, was ruled out for the season.
Now, Truesdale is the starter, and having to learn on the job.
“I was a little nervous at first,” Truesdale said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s a big spot to fill, but with hard work I feel I can get the job done. I’m definitely excited to get playing time on defense, especially as a junior.
“It’s definitely going to be faster (than JV). I have to be able to step up.”
Both defensive coordinator Steve Dilley and head coach Blair Roman like what Truesdale brings to the defense.
“The speed of the game is a whole other level,” Dilley said. “You have to open your hips quicker on coverage and the cushion is different. The learning curve is steep at the varsity level. He jump started last year when he came up during the playoffs and practiced with us. He learned how we do things and what to expect. He’s doing a great job so far.”
“Landon fits the bill,” Roman said. “He’s athletic and pound-for-pound he’s very strong. He is tough, and he’ll come up and hit you. He practiced with us his freshman and sophomore years during the playoffs and he gained a lot of knowledge. I think that will help him make this jump. The only con is his lack of varsity experience.”
As Roman said Wednesday, Wallace’s injury has had a domino effect on both sides of the ball.
“Without Greg, Abel (Carter) is going to have to concentrate more on offense which means we have to find another “Sam” backer,” Dilley said. “Kids have to step up.”
Among the player vying for time are Connor Quilling, Richard Romero, Dawson Lamb and Jacob Weber. The latter three were on the JV squad a year ago. Quilling was a reserve wide receiver.
“Connor runs well and is playing well.” Roman said.
Part of spring ball and summer practice is to get ready for the upcoming season, but it’s also a time to develop depth.
A year ago, Roman was fortunate to have two experienced quarterbacks in Joe Nelson and Jace Keema. This year it’s a different story. Keema returns for his senior season, and his back-up is junior Daniel Morrison, who missed last year with an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his right knee. Much of the spring and summer has been about catching him up.
“It (the knee) is pretty much back to normal,” Morrison said between Thursday practices. “It’s been a learning process. Jace (Keema) is a good leader, and he’s been helping me a lot.”
Morrison said he injured his knee right in a practice before the Reno scrimmage. He came down wrong on it. He’s still forced to wear a brace for any football-related activity.
“We’ve been working hard with him,” Roman said. “I feel he could come in and run the offense if needed. We’re working with him to get him (more) comfortable in the offense, and I feel by the end of the season he is going to be a real solid quarterback.
“We are working on completion consistency. The distance will come as he gets bigger and matures.”
Morrison added he’s working on his footwork and mechanics, and he said Roman has been helpful in those areas.
Terin Keller is the Senators’ emergency quarterback.
Senior tight end Josh Thompson was held out of practices Thursday because of a thigh bruise. He’s expected to be back at work on Saturday morning.
Junior Gabe Gabica suffered an arm injury and was taken to the hospital for X-rays.