Purple & Gold Spring Game is next Saturday at 1
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – In search of answers to a few lingering questions, Tennessee Tech football coach Watson Brown put the Golden Eagles through a 64-play, 90-minute controlled scrimmage Saturday morning as the team heads into its final week of spring drills.
“We’re getting a lot out of this spring,” Brown said. “With so many players out it’s been tough, but I’m pleased. We’re getting better.
“One advantage that we’re going to have will be our depth,” he said. “We’re going to have more players who we’re able to put on the field, more guys that we can rely on to play. A lot of our twos and threes are playing like ones.”
That’s been out of necessity, with so many players watching from the sidelines.
For Saturday’s workouts, 16 players were unable to participate due to a variety of injuries. That list included four defensive backs, three linebackers, three receivers and three offensive linemen.
The primary questions are at linebacker, offensive line and quarterback.
“I’m not worried about the talent at linebacker,” Brown said. “I’m more concerned with getting them enough reps.”
Three linebackers who figure to play prominent roles in 2010 were out of action Saturday, including redshirt freshman Blake Adams and sophomores Jerry King and Matt Moran. The defensive backs that were inactive included junior Caleb Mitchell, senior Corbin Miles, and sophomores DeShawn Harris and Chris Dickerson.
“Defensively, we need to find two more safeties and
identify our nickel and dime backs,” Brown said.
On the offensive line, only two tackles, Malcolm Jones and Hunter Beedle, were available. That meant guards had to fill in at those positions on occasion.
“Offensively, we have two primary goals this final week,” Brown said. “We want to find a fifth player and get some backups playing better in the offensive line, and we want our quarterbacks to keep improving and getting some consistency.”
Up front, sophomore Michael Baker is working toward locking up the starting role at center, allowing two-year starter Malcolm Jones to move to right tackle, a more natural position for him. Returnees Slade Adams and Scott Schweitzer give Tech a couple of anchors at the guard spots, while the left tackle position is still up for grabs. Beedle and Andrew Higgins are battling for that role, but Higgins missed Saturday’s workouts after getting injured late in Friday’s practice.
Three quarterbacks ran the offense on Saturday, and Brown was happy with what he saw from Trey Lamb, Cass Barnes and Clint Brewster (photo above right). The three combined to go 20-for-27 for 320 yards and three touchdowns.
“Trey has been the most consistent, but Cass is right behind him,” Brown said. “Clint did some good things, too.
“I don’t think we have a quarterback problem,” Brown said, after losing four-year starter and record-setting passer Lee Sweeney.
“I believe we have some really good quarterbacks. Our style is different than it was with Lee. We’ll have more runs from our quarterbacks and our second quarterback has to be ready to go. That’s why we’ve recruited running-throwing quarterbacks,” Brown said.
Saturday By The Numbers
The Golden Eagle offense piled up 538 yards of offensive on 64 snaps, with 320 through the air and 218 on the ground.
Lamb, working with the number on offense, was 6-for-8 for 145 yards and two touchdowns. His scoring passes went to Demetrous Garrett and Tim Benford, and he also led the offense on a drive that netted a 29-yard field goal by sophomore Tim Donegan.
Lamb hit Garrett across the middle on the first possession of the day, a play that resulted in a 25-yard touchdown when the sophomore receiver made a move to free him for the final 15 yards.
After the field goal on his second drive, Lamb’s third chance under center resulted in a 49-yard scoring toss to Tim Benford (photo above), who beat tight coverage downfield.
Barnes worked with the second offense and went 8-for-11 for 109 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown strike to Cory McDonald. Tech also got two rushing touchdowns with Barnes at the controls, a 43-yard burst by Tremaine Hudson and a four-yard run by Jimmy Blair.
Blair’s scoring run came when pulling right guard Slade Adams opened the entire left side of the field with a crushing, field-clearing block.
Brewster, who got a couple of series late in the day, was 6-for-8 for 66 yards. He put Tech in field goal position twice with redshirt freshman Kevin Roberts good from 31 yards and missing from 38 yards.
In all, eight different players caught passes Saturday, led by Benford with six catches for 114 yards. Carter Crutchfield had four catches for 37 yards. McDonald had two grabs for 42 yards, Garrett two for 34, and Zack Ziegler two for 28.
The final catch of the game was made by redshirt freshman Ryan Tilghman (photo at left), a walk-on quarterback who lined up at outside receiver.
On the ground, 10 different players had carries including all three quarterbacks who combined to gain 53 yards on 13 attempts. Hudson was Tech’s leading rusher with 60 yards on five carries, highlighted by his 43-yard jaunt to the end zone. Blair was next on the charts with eight carries for 35 yards, while Lamb ranked third in yardage, picking up 30 yards on four tries.
The Golden Eagles have three more practices planned for next week (Monday night, Wednesday and Friday afternoons), leading up to the Purple and Gold Spring Game on Saturday. That event is expected to get underway at 1 p.m. and is open to the public.
-- photos provided by Thomas Corhern, Cookeville Herald-Citizen