378-pound offensive tackle/guard Rotchill Medor, is either new or inexperienced. Wayne Williams, who is receiving interest from Penn State and Syracuse, is playing two ways for the first time this fall.
Opposing defenses will play Lincoln for the run, looking to take away Vital’s bread-and-butter draws, which will force him to put the ball in the air. Last season, Vital was at his best with the ball tucked underneath his arm then with his arm cocked.
“That was one of our issues last year, not being balanced,” O’Connor said. “You play the good teams in the playoffs, you gotta do both.”
In practice Wednesday, he looked sharp connecting with the 6-foot-3 Heath on short slant patterns. But his deep ball hung up, enabling defensive backs time to break up the plays. Of course, Lincoln was using rubber balls in rainy conditions with shoulder pads for the first time.
“There is pressure on him, but he’s such a competitor, if he just does what he’s capable of, he’ll be OK,” O’Connor said of the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Vital, who has drawn interest from Syracuse and an offer from Wagner College. “The minute he starts thinking he has to do other things, that’s when he has problems. He can throw the ball, but we have to put him in good spots.”
O’Connor is more confident in Vital now, partly because of his new throwing style but more so due to the experience he gained last year. After starting four games as a sophomore, he was under center for virtually every snap last year, to the point that he feels comfortable in the Railsplitters’ spread offense.
“He’s thinking less and reacting a lot faster,” the coach said. “He’s making better decisions. That’s [more important] than his throwing mechanics.”