By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – With just under a week remaining in Tennessee Tech football's 2019 spring practices, the Golden Eagles may be hitting the home stretch, but the course work got a lot more complicated.
During Saturday's scrimmage at Tucker Stadium, Tech went more down-and-distance in its work than in last week's slate, but while there were some tempers flared and fatigue rearing its head, the Golden Eagles still found plenty to be happy about.
"Last week we had a set number of plays we were trying to do with each personnel group," said Tech head coach Dewayne Alexander. "This week, we played it truly more like a game. We went 1st-and-10 and if you got three downs, we're going to be off the field – and that's where more procedural things and officials show up.
"We're at the point now in the spring where we've got a few guys banged up. We had to hold a few guys out. We had a couple more banged up, but nothing too serious. That said, there were positives. We did good things on both sides of the ball. We're still emphasizing explosive plays on offense and we got some of those. Defensively, we got some turnovers – an interception, a fumble in a key situation."
The sophomore quarterback passed for another touchdown as he hit Adam Browner with a seven-yard pass. Fisher then called his own number in the red zone situations as he veered to the outside and stretched his arm out to get the score before he could get tackled.
"Bailey Fisher is just continuing to grow," Alexander said. "He's so comfortable right now and he is really playing at such a high level. He's very accurate – he's completed a lot of passes out here on contested balls. We've got defenders on the receivers, but he's throwing it where just one guy can catch it. Give credit to our receivers as they're making those plays. He's having an outstanding spring and is much improved from the fall, which is good to see."
Gist scored again later on as he scored on a seven-yard run.
"Two guys on defense that I really want to point out that have had tremendous springs is Tai Carter and Jack Warwick. Tai played the second half of the season with us as a freshman and he's done some amazing things for us this spring. Jack has looked very good. He was a redshirt freshman that didn't play a game for us until late in the year."
The down-and-distance setup allowed the players to react more like a true game simulation as they had to make different decisions based on where they were on the field.
"We tried to get all the different phases covered, all the different situational things," Alexander said. "This will be a great teaching film for us not just this week, but one we can teach off of as we go to fall camp."
The Golden Eagles wrap up practices this week with sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, then host its annual Spring Game on Friday. The event will be held on the grass field adjacent to the Hooper Eblen Center and the Tech Soccer Field.
"What we learn from this scrimmage is going to be important," Alexander said. "Tuesday will be similar to what we did last Tuesday. We'll come out and make any corrections that we need to make. We'll go back through some situations so we can see it again and help each other because we are all on the same team.
"We want to have a good, fun Spring Game. It'll be a competitive game, we'll put them in game jerseys and let these guys go out there and have a good time. We'll have all of our recruits and their families in, our alumni, the current players and their families and some students and community people out, just to have a good night to cap off the spring."
And as the team does hit that home stretch, it's not too early to look back at what the team has gone through to make the spring a successful one.
"I'm very pleased – we've had 12 consecutive practices without any interruption," Alexander said. "We moved it up today (because of forecasted weather) and I think that was a good call. We got a lot of good work in. The spring gets long because they have study hall, classes, weightlifting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, midterms happen right in the middle of spring ball.
"These guys have really hung in there down the stretch, so I'm proud of them. There are some things we need to correct, but, overall, we've had a good spring."
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information