August 22, 2009

Offense Shows Good Signs In Scrimmage

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For the past few days of fall camp this week, the defense has for the most part gotten the best of the offense. There's been some sacks, some miscommunication on passing and it's been tough at times for the running game to get going.

It looks like the offense has had enough.

Not 20 minutes into today's scrimmage, sophomore running back Braxston Miller, converted from linebacker Monday rushed right on a sweep. With sophomore safety Ryan Beard trying to bring him down, Miller issued a stiff arm that nearly planted Beard in the ground.

Then, two drives later, sophomore running back Bobby Rainey carried right, then reversed field and went left for a 19-yard gain. During Rainey's reversal, sophomore quarterback Kawaun Jakes found the nearest defender and lowered his shoulder for a block that sprung Rainey, putting a smile on coach David Elson's face.

"Kawaun's really had a great camp and really has gotten better every single day it seems like," Elson said. "He's getting more and more confidence, he's been impressive. Bobby got out of that mess to the right and reversed field and that's what you want your quarterback to do, stay alert, stay involved in the play and he found a guy he could block and he did."

It wasn't just an offensive show, as much as a sign of life from that side of the ball. Defensively, sophomore defensive lineman Jared Clendenin tackled Rainey in the end zone, just short of the goal line for a safety.

True freshman cornerback Jamal Forrest also came up big a few drives later, when he leapt to pick off a pass in the end zone, intended for junior wide receiver Seth Tamme. Three drives later, another true freshman in the secondary, Vince Williams, stepped in front of a pass from senior quarterback Brandon Smith for an interception.

The defense had pressure on the opposing side most of the day, though that's still an area to work on.

"We still have work to do in that area too, pressuring the ball with the quarterback and stuff and containing," junior linebacker Thomas Majors said. "That's our biggest problem right now, is containing the quarterback. We get some contain, we'll be alright."

It was more of a conservative, ground approach on offense, but the running backs made the most of it. Miller finished with 96 yards on the ground, while Rainey ran for 59 yards.

"The group as a whole, man, we performed," senior running back Marell Booker said. "Big ups to our O-line. We were just all on the same page today. Everything goes to them. They opened holes, we trusted them to open them and they trusted us to hit it."

There were no big passes downfield, though the offense executed well on play action, with the success of the running game. Redshirt freshman tight end Jack Doyle was the recipient of two play action passes, both for touchdowns.

"Really, for us to get those passes, we have to set up the run first," Doyle said. "To be able to run the ball and get down there really helps set up that pass because you get the defense to bite a little bit."

While the offense also saw some big plays from a pair of freshman wide receivers, in Will Adams and Jamarielle Brown, the weaponry will be trimmed down over next few days. Elson said the Toppers will select the true freshmen that will be playing and deciding who will redshirt soon.

"We're to a point where we can pretty much draw the line and not have anybody on the fence there," he said. "I think we're starting to get healthy in some other spots, that hopefully will allow us to redshirt most of them."


Check Out InsideHilltopperSports.com's insider's only look at today's practices, including injury reports.




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