By Brad Fauber
WINCHESTER -- If Shenandoah University head football coach Scott Yoder has his way, Cedrick Delaney will be a busy man in the Hornets' offense this fall.
Delaney has made the transition from receiver to running back for SU following the departure of former running back Andrew Smith, and Delaney's versatility and play-making ability has drawn rave reviews from Yoder over the last few weeks.
Delaney was listed as Shenandoah's No. 1 back in the depth chart released earlier this week, and Yoder said he expects the sophomore to start in the backfield for the Hornets in the season opener at Gallaudet on Saturday night. But Delaney could -- and almost certainly will -- find himself all over the field against the Bison and throughout this season.
"They want me to be the man this year, they were telling me, so they've got me at slot [receiver], wideout, running back. It's going to be tough for me to learn all of that and keep all the plays, but I think I'll do good at it this year," Delaney said Wednesday.
"It's going to be a fun year for me," he added. "I'm expecting a lot and they're expecting a lot from me, too."
Delaney is just one of a handful of running backs that are expected to see action for the Hornets in 2014. Junior Kye Hopkins, sophomore Dalaun Richardson and freshman Dieon DuPont have also received high praise from Yoder, and Yoder said the Hornets are likely to use all four in order to take advantage of each running back's unique skill set.
But in Yoder's eyes, Delaney is simply too valuable to see his touches limited by a running back rotation and will see action this season as a slot receiver and a wideout. Yoder also said at Shenandoah's media day on Aug. 24 that Delaney could take snaps at quarterback should something happen to senior QB Drew Ferguson.
"You've got to get him touches," Yoder said Wednesday. "What I'm hoping you'll see from us is where Cedrick can line up in a lot of different spots. He can draw attention, we can find a way to get him screen passes, give him handoffs, shovel passes, anything and everything because we've got to get him the ball. He's a kid that can take it to the house at any time and when you have a kid like that you have to give him those opportunities."
Delaney, who said he played as a slot receiver and running back at Osbourn High School in Manassas, has been a quick learner in his new job as a multi-threat weapon for the Hornets, according to Yoder.
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Delaney worked primarily out of the slot last season as a freshman, hauling in 22 catches for 325 yards and three touchdowns while playing in all 10 games for the Hornets.
"Last year we didn't really want to put too much on his plate," Yoder said. "But certainly with Andrew leaving and [us] attacking the spring we said the more places we can play Cedrick, the more chances we can get him the ball, the more effective he's going to be and the better we're going to be as an offense."
TAKE TWO: For the second season in a row, Shenandoah faces the challenging task of preparing for Gallaudet's triple-option offense ahead of Saturday's 7 p.m. season opener against the Bison in Washington, D.C.
Yoder, who also serves as SU's defensive coordinator, said much of the game preparation for an option-heavy offense rests in film study, as it's difficult to mimic in practice the speed at which option teams operate in their offense. But the Hornets have made adjustments on the practice field this week to ensure that each of the 11 players on defense understand their assignments.
"We practice differently just in how we design the drills," Yoder said. "It's very compartmentalizing teaching. You're teaching one side, it's not always 11 on 11. For instance, [Tuesday] we just worked on, on one hash we were working just runs to one side. On the other hash the same group was working runs to the other side. Just trying to break it down into understanding what our assignment is and what we can see. The hard part about [it is] guys that run the option have been doing it for a long time and it doesn't matter what I think up at night, they've seen it. They've seen it 400 times."
Gallaudet, an NCAA playoff team last season, gashed the Hornets for 390 yards rushing in its 31-20 win over Shenandoah a year ago. Yoder said he expects Shenandoah's defense to be better prepared for Gallaudet's offense Saturday, not just due to the fact that they got a taste of it last season, but also because the Hornets are more comfortable in their 4-4 scheme and their personnel than they were in Yoder's first season a year ago.
WAITING IN THE WINGS: Freshman quarterback and 2011 Sherando grad Jalen Brisco has emerged as the early backup to Hornets starter Drew Ferguson.
Brisco, one of seven freshman quarterbacks currently listed on Shenandoah's roster, impressed Yoder and the rest of the coaching staff enough in Saturday's scrimmage at Gettysburg to separate himself from the rest of the pack.
"He went to Gettysburg and he played well," Yoder said. "He made some mistakes, but the thing that I really like about Jalen and what I didn't know the last time we talked [at media day on Aug. 24] was what would the offense look like with our No. 2 quarterback in there? And now after seeing Gettysburg I know because Jalen came in the second quarter, he threw a touchdown pass."
Yoder noted that Brisco did throw an interception in the red zone late in the first half of Saturday's scrimmage, but the head coach added that he feels more confident in Shenandoah's quarterback situation than he did last week.
Skyline grad Travis Siever was also listed on Shenandoah's two-deep roster released earlier this week as the backup right tackle behind senior Ivan Ayala. Siever, a 6-foot, 280-pound freshman, was a first team all-Conference 28 pick for Skyline last season.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org