2011 Preview – Mississippi State University Darkhorse

by | December 27, 2010, 8:00am 0

[stextbox id=”alert” color=”050505″ bcolor=”6cc3f8″ bgcolor=”ffffff” big=”true” image=”null”]School Name: Mississippi State University
Team Name: Darkhorse
Captains: Andrew Williams, Clay Warden
Coaches: John Rhodes Martin
Year Founded: 2006
Jersey Colors: Maroon, White, and Black
Website: www.msuultimate.com
2010 Record: 29-20
Score Reporter

Tell us a little about yourself.  How did you get involved with Ultimate at your school?

Andrew Francis: I grew up playing baseball, basketball and soccer, which I played at the club level for 8 years. I began to play pickup ultimate in high school and joined Huntsville’s (AL) summer League the summer after I graduated HS. I knew a couple of the guys who played at MSU, so I joined the team my Freshmen year and have been playing ever since

What is Ultimate at Mississippi State University all about?

Andrew: It is a fringe sport, but is beginning to gain traction in the student body. Intramurals keep expanding and getting a little more competitive. We are on the verge of having enough committed guys to form a B team, but that may be a year away. Last year, a women’s team was formed and they have grown a lot in their second year.

How did DARKHORSE do last year?  What was the highlight of your season?

Andrew: Finished 3rd in the Bama Section and 13th in the South region.

Winning the backdoor 3rd place game at sectionals for the 3rd year in a row. Going 4-0 against Ole Miss

Who is your favorite team to play against?  Tell me about a memorable game.

Andrew: Ole Miss- At T-town Throwdown last spring, we split into A and B teams so everyone could play as much as they wanted. Our B team beat them on Saturday, and then our injury plagued, down to 8 man A team beat them on Sunday.

Tell us about your coach.  What does he bring to your team?

Andrew: John Rhodes Martin is a former player at Ole Miss and Mississippi State. He has played at the club level with various teams including Cottonmouth and Brah. He is a great all around player with a lot of knowledge of the game. He is very enthusiastic about teaching the game to new players and breaking old player’s bad habits.

What player is most likely to make a huge play as a thrower?

Andrew: Andrew Williams, Clay Warden

As a receiver?

Andrew: Cody Smith, Jonathon Gullet, Erek Allen

On D?

Andrew: Hunter Murray, Jonathon Graves, Cody Smith

It’s easy to see when someone throws a huge huck on gets a layout D.  Who’s a player you have to watch more carefully to see how valuable he is to your team?

Andrew: Jonathon Graves is a huge hustle player who just gets his job done. He can deny his man the disc most of the time, so you don’t see him making a lot of Ds. He is only 5’10”-ish, but will swat a disc out of the air when called upon. He is also a guy who will get open on almost any defender and is always reliable with the disc

How does your team bring new players to Ultimate up to speed?

Andrew: We try to play as much in the fall as possible. This year, we played organized pickup twice a week. During these pickup games, we sometimes stop the games to go over something that happened on the field (or should have happened. We are attending 3 tournaments this fall, which is the best and quickest way for new guys to learn.

In the spring, we practice 2 or 3 times a week, most of which is teaching specific things about our game.

What does your team like to do on offense and on defense?

Andrew: The Horizontal offense is our go to on O. We have tall, fast cutters who are not afraid to go deep at any time. Our handlers love to huck it from any spot on the field. If teams try to shut down our deep game, we have no problem working the disc up the field.

On D, we play a mix of man and zone when the weather cooperates. Our zone is usually a 3 man cup or a hybrid zone that is way too hard to explain.

Has your team set any goals for this season? What are they?

Andrew: Our goal every year is to definitely make Regionals. This year, we are pushing to playing meaningful games on Sunday at Regionals. The past few years, we have gotten beat in the first few rounds, but were on the cusp of some upsets (lost 15-12 to #2 seed Kansas after having the game tied at 12-12).

Also, we have never won a tournament before. We have made the semifinals of multiple tournaments, but just couldn’t get to the final. Winning a tournament is definitely a goal.

What tournaments do you plan to attend in the spring?  Which are you most looking forward to?

Andrew: Joint Summit Classic, T-town Throwdown, CowBell Classic, Mardi Gras, Tally Classic, Mudbowl, Sectionals, Regionals, Nationals?

What does your team do to get pumped up for a big game?

Andrew: Listen to our coach/captains in the huddle, sing our fight song/some other song, and then break it down on Darkhorse. We may start doing the Dog Pound Rock like the football team- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6Z9GUQQLEQ (starts at 1 min).

What song would you pick for the soundtrack to your team’s 2011 highlight video?

Andrew: Some Taylor Swift song. Our team has an odd obsession with her. (Editor’s Note: we can only assume they meant this one.)

Bear, ninja or cowboy?

Andrew: Bear, but not the new Ole Miss Black Bear, because that’s just dumb.

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