CAMP NOTEBOOK: Offensive consistency and strong tackling among keys of first scrimmage
By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
Photos by Tony Marable
Scroll to the bottom to view a video on Saturday's scrimmage
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - With the first scrimmage of the 2013 season officially in the books, Tennessee Tech football head coach Watson Brown knows that this is the crucial part of the preseason where positions are won, leaders emerge, and the kinks begin to work themselves out.
"I think the big thing you get from the first scrimmage is an idea of your personnel," said Brown. "Who did well and who didn't and who deserves to be moved up. Which freshmen did a good job. It's those types of things that we as coaches look at more than just the execution during our first scrimmage."
Overall, the results of the scrimmage were neither overly exciting nor disappointing. Neither the defense nor the offense truly dominated on the day, giving Tech fans plenty of intrigue as the preseason truly begins to unfold in front of them.
That doesn't mean the team doesn't still have a ways to go before it is game ready though.
"The thing I really liked was our effort," said Brown. "We were a little sloppy. Some guys missed assignments and some different things. But I really liked the effort and liked the toughness. Overall I thought it was a very very good first scrimmage."
The offense looked comfortable throughout the day, moving the ball consistently while making just one turnover on over 100 plays. Three touchdowns and five field goals were achieved during the scrimmage as the ball distribution was pretty even across the board.
"The offense moved the ball well and committed just one turnover," said Brown. "The worst thing we did was we missed some critical assignments that killed a few drives, but that is expected some in the first go of things. It's something that we will address and I know we'll get better at as we go through the process."
Led by redshirt freshman Jared Davis, who was tops among passers with 111 yards, the Golden Eagle offense accounted for 271 yards through the air. The passing attack was also responsible for two of the three touchdowns on the day. Junior Darian Stone connected with sophomore Ladarius Vanlier on a six-yard pass on just the second drive of the game. He later threw a perfect touch pass to sophomore receiver Eric Belew for a 31-yard score.
Freshman quarterback Charlie High looked sharp as well in his time on field. The Knoxville native finished the day an impressive 6-for-7 with 35 yards while managing two scoring drives.
Eleven different Golden Eagle combined to do good work on the ground as the Tech offense piled up 328 rushing yards on 59 carries, good for a 5.6 yards per carry average. Among the ground leaders was junior back Stephen Bush. The Cookeville native led all rushers with 55 yards, including an impressive 48-yard scamper that saw him both shed some tacklers and finesse around others.
Also making an impact with his legs was freshman quarterback Brock McCoin who scrambled twice for a total of 52 yards. Redshirt freshman running back Isaiah McKinney led all rushers with 12 attempts on the day, accounting for 46 yards. Senior Bud Golden scored the group's lone touchdown as he piled up 34 yards on eight carries.
Perhaps a bit surprising was the impact the tight ends made in the passing game as three made catches including redshirt freshman Britton Woodall, who led all receivers on the day with 40 yards. Junior DaJuan Brown made two impressive catches, holding on to strikes while being sandwiched between two defenders on one occasion and popped in the chest on the other.
Still searching for a true position, freshman athlete Maleek Hall grabbed five passes for 39 yards.
The kickers looked sharp, both literally and figuratively. Junior Zach Sharp finished two-of-two on extra points attempts and two-of-two on field goal attempts, including drilling a 49-yarder off the left upright and in for a good field goal.
Chris Harris also performed well, converting his extra point attempt and going a perfect three-of-three on field goal attempts with a 41-yarder.
The defense performed well, impressing Coach Brown with sound technique and a lack of big plays allowed.
"I thought we tackled better than I thought we would," said Brown. "Our tackling was pretty good. We did a good job of wrapping up the ball carrier.
"We also didn't give up really any big plays. The offense moved the ball well, but the defense didn't allow any of those huge plays can really hurt. Five penalties on the defense was the biggest downside to me. We can't have five penalties on defense and win games and that is something we will work on and correct before we open the season."