MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The head coach saw some good things and some not-so-good things during Saturday’s first spring scrimmage for Middle Tennessee.
Players on the offense were happy with some aspects of the unit’s play and disappointed in other areas.
Defensive stalwarts shared the same thoughts, pointing to more good than bad but also indicating there is much room for improvement as spring football drills continue at Middle Tennessee.
It sounds like the first spring scrimmage for the Blue Raiders was an overall success when that many people are happy with some areas and look to improve in others.
“We have a lot of good things we can take away from this scrimmage and there are some things we certainly need to clean up and improve upon,” Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill said. “I thought the defense gave up too many big plays, but they also came up with big plays to stop drives. We did some good things on offense moving the football, but we didn’t finish drives.”
Indeed, the offense must continue to work on finishing drives. It looked rather easy at first when sophomore quarterback Brent Stockstill drove the first-team offense down the field and converted with receiver Demetrius Frazier for a 8-yard scoring pass to cap the drive.
The second-team offense followed in impressive fashion. It didn’t take long for the unit to scurry down the field and score when redshirt freshman tailback Terelle West pounded his way in from 9 yards out. A 47-yard pass play from quarterback John Urzua to Tristan Walker was the key play during the drive.
There were several such superlative plays offensively, such as I’Tavius Mathers’ 52-yard run and other impressive cuts and runs, but the inability to finish drives left a bad taste in the mouth of offensive players.
“We came out hot and moved the ball on those first two drives,” quarterback Stockstill said. “After that I thought the quarterback play was not good, and we will fix that. I thought the receivers, running backs and offensive linemen all played well, but the quarterback play was not good. If we want to be the offense we are capable of being, we have to be better than that.”
After the offense had its way on the first two drives, the defense stepped up its play. In fact, the Blue Raiders’ stop squad stopped the offensive unit seven straight times before tailback Kamani Thomas capped a drive with a 12-yard touchdown run.
The offense moved the ball during many of those drives but it was the defense coming up with big plays to put the offense behind the chains or to get off of the field.
For example, defensive back Michael Minter had several excellent plays. He had two passes deflected, one interception and nearly added another. Alex Dale had a nice open-field tackle on a reverse. Linebackers Myles Harges, D.J. Sanders and Darius Harris were active. There were also big plays turned in by Raynard Felton, Jahmal Jones, Justin Akins and Shaquille Huff, among others.
The defense also came up with some good stops during the 40-yard going in portion of the scrimmage, forcing field goal attempts on four series. Kicker Canon Rooker came through on three of four efforts. He connected on attempts of 32, 41 and 50, and came up just inches short on another 50 yarder. Rooker ended the scrimmage with a 47-yarder down the middle of the uprights.