Off to a fast start: Golden Eagles hold first scrimmage Sunday
Golden Eagles pile up nearly 500 yards in an hour on the field
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- One thing Golden Eagles fans learned Sunday evening watching Tennessee Tech's first scrimmage of fall camp -- they better arrive early and pay close attention. The team ran off 90 plays and piled up nearly 500 yards in about an hour!
"The pace was good," said fifth-year head coach Watson Brown, who is hoping the Golden Eagles can exhibit "The Fastest 60 Minutes in Football" during the 2011 season. "It got a little better as we went on. We have to be able to have poise with a fast pace. If you can do that, the other side is really going to struggle with it.
"And, you've got to be in condition," he added. "We would probably throw some people in and out to keep them a little fresher, because we just leave everybody in for these scrimmages for conditioning. But, I was pleased with the pace. I'm not totally pleased with the execution, but I didn't expect to. We had a lot of stuff put in in the first week, and not a lot of time to rep anything."
Three quarterbacks took turns directing the offense, 13 different players had carries and 11 players caught passes. Tech's passing game was a combined 21-for-37 for 285 yards with one touchdown, one interception and four sacks. On the ground, Tech had 46 carries for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
The kicking game, with freshman Zach Sharp handing all of the duties in the first scrimmage, added three PAT kicks and was 3-for-5 on field goal tries.
The Tech defense kept up with the pace and had some standouts performances, led by Kedrick Towles with seven tackles. Matt Moran and Travis Adkins each had five tackles and one quarterback sack, and Dwight Evans added four tackles and one sack. True freshman linebacker Tra'Darius Goff had the other sack. The lone turnover in the scrimmage was an early interception by Dominick Baker on a pass by redshirt freshman Darian Stone.
The team was able to play at that pace, according to Brown, because of conditioning.
"Our first week was really good. Coach (Chip) Pugh did a great job with them," Brown said. "But there's a difference in pad conditioning, and we've now got to get that. It's just going to take us some time, but we'll get there. I'm pleased with first week conditioning."
Lamb was 5-for-9 for 106 yards including a 67-yard touchdown pass to Josh Wilson on the second play of the scrimmage. Ryan Tilghman went 6-for-8 for 77 yards with two sacks, and Stone was 10-for-20 for 102 yards with two sacks and one interception.
Sophomore Cody Forbes was the top rusher with 10 carries for 38 yards. Adam Urbano added 29 yards on just three carries, including a seven-yard touchdown run. Dontey Gay had the other touchdown, an 11-yard run as part of his four carries for 25 yards.
True freshman Stephen Bush, playing late in the scrimmage, had five carries for 21 yards.
Wilson led the receivers with four catches for 109 yards, including the early 67-yard touchdown. Seven of the other 10 players who caught passes had multiple receptions, topped by Ronquez Beech with three for 39 yards and Alden Olverson with two grabs for 40 yards.
Sharp connected on all three of his PAT tries. His first field goal attempt, a 45-yarder, was tipped at the line of scrimmage by senior Jamere Hogue and fell short. He made his next three from 23, 19 and 33 yards. The final play of the night was another 45-yard attempt by Sharp that had plenty of distance but narrowly missed to the right.
Sharp is battling for the kicking duties with junior returnee Matthew Barker, and the freshman was given the nod for all of Sunday's attempts.
"I think we (snapper Jordan Adams and holder Nick Campbell) work well together," Sharp said. "I couldn't be happier. I wasn't expecting anything this good, and I'm the one who's going too slow. Jordan is one of the most consistent snappers I've ever seen, and Nick has great hands."
Sunday's scrimmage capped off the first week of practice for the Golden Eagles, who open the 2011 season on Saturday, Sept. 3, with a game at Iowa of the Big 10 Conference. Brown was pleased with the progress of the first week, but says the next week is more important.
"This was a very good week. We didn't have a lot of injuries, and we have had a whole lot of phyical work this week," Brown said. "Then we have a 90-play scrimmage tonight. We had a few guys get banged up a little, but overall I thought it was pretty well.
"Now we head into week two," he said. "I've always felt that the second week is the most important week of fall camp. We've already had some, but this week will be a lot more physical work. The third week we start backing off a little and the fourth week is game week. This is the physical week when they really have to push themselves.
"We will build as much off this week as any week of the season," he added.
The team has Monday off, then will be on the field every morning at 8 a.m. for the remainder of the second week. The second scrimmage is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at the annual Gathering of Eagles in Tucker Stadium.
For details, or to order tickets, please visit or call the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center (931-372-3940), Tickets and information will also be available on TTUsports.com.