Calm confidence prevails as Golden Eagles brace for first fall scrimmage Sunday

Golden Eagle players go through a blocking drill earlier in the week; Come Sunday they'll scrimmage
Golden Eagle players go through a blocking drill earlier in the week; Come Sunday they'll scrimmage

Team will scrimmage Sunday at 4 p.m. on Overall Field

COOKVILLE, Tenn. -- A calm confidence was in the air Friday afternoon, along with a cooling breeze, as the Tennessee Tech football team went through its afternoon walk-through in Tucker Stadium to cap off its first week of practices.

Coach Watson Brown's team will hold its first scrimmage of fall camp Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. on Overall Field. The public is invited to attend and get its first look at the 2012 Golden Eagles.

Brown, whose team claimed a share of the Ohio Valley Conference championship last season for the first time in 36 years, appeared completely relaxed as his players -- dressed in shorts and game shirts but without any pads or helmets -- walked through some of the formations and plays they've worked on since ariving on campus a week ago.

The team will practice twice Saturday, then square off in scrimmage action Sunday.

"I don't really look forward to scrimmages, I look forward to game day," Brown said, "but the players do. They like to get out there and fly around."

In his 29th season as a collegiate head coach, this will mark the 29th time he is running his team through fall camp; Sunday will be the 29th "first" scrimmage in his career.

"I learn a lot, and we have to have them. We get a chance to see the new guys out there by themselves for the first time and see how they react," he said.

The temperature had dropped into the low 80s by Friday's practice, nearly 10 degrees lower than most of the afternoons earlier in the week. The players showed plenty of spirit on the heels of their first three days in full pads.

"I've been pleased so far," Brown said. "You can tell we're not quite as experienced as last year. I guess we kind of took that experience for granted, and we're a little slower than where we were at this time last year."

Brown said the goals for Sunday's scrimmage remain the same as they have been throughout his career.

"First of all, we want to make sure we have the right players in the right places, and see who's where on the depth chart," Brown said. "Second, we'll work some on the system, but this is more of a position scrimmage than the second srimmage will be."

That second scrimmage will take place next Saturday (Aug, 18), and will punctuate the annual Gathering of Eagles fan picnic in Tucker Stadium.

The staff hasn't made any position changes to any players during the first week.

"We usually get that part done in the spring," Brown said. "We don't make many position changes in the fall unless it's off an injury or a freshman really rises up. This class of freshmen was specifically recruited to positions, and they have all been exactly what we thought they'd be."

Among the newcomers, Brown and his staff expect freshmen to show up in the receiving corps and in the offensive line, where the Golden Eagles are looking to solidify the depth chart. Another position where a newcomer could have an impact is in the kicking game, where Chris Harris, a freshman from Columbia, Tenn., is making a strong bid to handle kickoff duties.

Brown said that a few minor injuries have hindered progress in a couple of key positions. Those missing in action during the first week include receiver Zack Ziegler (back), defensive back Will Johnson (knee), defensive back Luke Woodason (hamstring) and offensive lineman Matthew Smith (Hamstring).

Season tickets remain on sale for Tech's six-game, 2012 home schedule. Tickets may be purchased online at, or through the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center (931-372-3940) weekdays during regular business hours.