|photo by Mark Campbell|
This season the competition for the starting quarterback job is a three-way battle between Lou Ritacco, Robby Schoenhoft and Sean Hakes. Three quality young men, three quality athletes that to date we know very little about. We are all wondering who will lead the 2008 Blue Hens on to the field at Maryland. While this article does not answer that question, it will help us to get to know each a little better.
GH: When speaking with one of our Blue Hen players I always wonder, what was it that drew them to Delaware? What was it in your case?
Ritacco: First of all, the school is great. It's not too big and it's not too small. Then the tradition of Delaware football is so great. At Delaware you're close to the fans and close to the community. When I first started looking at Delaware I just felt so comfortable. That was even before I was offered a scholarship.
GH: Was your decision to come here a slam dunk or were other schools just as appealing?
"...if anyone would have offered me after Delaware did I would have told them that Delaware was my number one choice."
Ritacco: Initially, there were a couple of schools that I was interested in but as soon as Delaware offered me I was done looking. I mean, if anyone would have offered me after Delaware did I would have told them that Delaware was my number one choice.
GH: Now that you have been here for a year, how comfortable do you feel with the offense?
Ritacco: I feel 100 times better than last year. I mean, last year I watched and soaked in as much as I could. I learned by watching Joe and by listening to Coach Ciarrocca because I didn't get many reps in practice. I think that kind of showed in the spring. I knew the system but I didn't really have a feel for it. Last year I spent my time running the scout team. I didn't practice our offense, instead I practiced the offense of every team that we faced. My job last year was to try and help our defense. But in the back of my mind I knew that Joe was about to graduate so I was always preparing mentally for our offense. I was always learning things like how to take drops and learning our progressions as best as I could.
GH: What do you particularly like about our offense?
Ritacco: I like the fact that in our offense you have to throw the ball. If you can't throw the ball in this offense you won't be successful. If you look at our ratio of pass to run you can see that you have to pass the ball in this offense and I look forward to that.
GH: What do you consider to be your strong point as a quarterback?
Ritacco: I think my strong point is that I will do whatever it takes to get the job done. I am working on my leadership qualities. I am working on motivating our offensive unit. I know that the coaches expect a lot out of me and I am willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. When they call a certain play, for example, I don't ask any questions. I try to get that attitude across to everyone. Get to the point. Get the job done. Just execute, no if, ands or buts.
"If it's 3rd and eight my favorite play is getting the first down regardless of the play that is called."
GH: I spoke with Coach Rappone and he told me that he likes to recruit wrestlers. I know that you wrestled in high school. Do you think that helped you as a football player?
Ritacco: If I didn't wrestle in high school I would be about 260 pounds right now. I was a three sport athlete in high school and I have been wrestling for about 16 years. It has really helped to keep me in shape. As a quarterback I feel that it has helped me in the way that I move especially my hips.
GH: You mentioned that you don't question what plays are called but do you have a favorite play?
Ritacco: Well, everybody likes to go long, but my favorite play is any play that gets us a first down. If it's 3rd and eight my favorite play is getting the first down regardless of the play that is called.
GH: Last year the QB was not asked to run the ball very often. How do you feel about running the ball?
Ritacco: In high school when I was asked to run the ball, I ran it. If I'm asked to run the ball at Delaware I won't have a problem lowering my shoulder.
"...you don't just go out and replace a guy that was a first-round draft choice. While that is a big difference, we have known since last year that day would come. In the back of my mind, realizing that someone would have to step up, I have been doing all that I could to compete for that job."
GH: Does it appear that the QB will be asked to run the ball more often this season?
Ritacco: As of right now, I don't know. We will get a better feel for that during game week. We're not practicing any special running plays right now. In the past they would put in certain running plays for certain opponents. But right now, no.
GH: How much do you think the 2008 offense will be changed due to the graduation of Joe Flacco, Omar Cuff and three starting offensive lineman? Will that cause significant changes to be made due to the lack of experience at these positions?
Ritacco: Well, I don't think there will be any significant changes in philosophy. But you don't just go out and replace a guy that was a first-round draft choice. While that is a big difference, we have known since last year that day would come. In the back of my mind, realizing that someone would have to step up, I have been doing all that I could to compete for that job. As far as the rest of the offense goes, there are enough players returning so that I don't see any significant changes being made. Our receiving unit is exceptional. Our line is strong. We do have three starters back and several other guys that have some experience filling in. And at running back we are very strong. I don't see any wholesale changes.
GH: I have heard that you like to have some fun with the coaches. What is that all about?
"...the biggest crowd that I have ever played in front of was about 2,000 I'm sure that there would be some butterflies but I am very much looking forward to that and working hard to be ready."
Ritacco: Oh. Well, I guess you could say that I'm not too stiff around the coaches. They know me pretty good and they like to bust on me. I guess I'm the kind of guy that is not afraid to give it back. Sometimes I kind of nudge the coaches a little just trying to keep things loose.
GH: As a final question how will you feel if you are the opening day quarterback playing in front of some 60,000 fans?
Ritacco: Well, since the biggest crowd that I have ever played in front of was about 2,000 I'm sure that there would be some butterflies but I am very much looking forward to that and working hard to be ready.
GH: Lou it has been a pleasure speaking with you. I wish that we could spend more time together but I know that you have a meeting to go to. Let me just thank you on behalf of the readers on GoHens.net and let you know that we will be pulling for you to have a great season.
Ritacco: It has been my pleasure. Thank you.