COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech defense, outplayed in last week's fall-camp scrimmage, returned the favor on Saturday in the Golden Eagles' second scrimmage by forcing five turnovers and allowing over 150 fewer yards of total offense from the first week.
The defense outshined the offense all day with timely turnovers, great stops, and better discipline than their teammates on the other side of the ball. The offense committed seven of the nine Tech penalties and completed just 52 percent of its passes. The longest play of the day for the offense, a 58 yard Jared Davis completion to receiver Steve Wilson, turned into disaster as Wilson was stripped and coughed up the football to a more than willing taker, defensive back Patrick Prewitt.
Two other defensive backs got in on the success for the day, recording two interceptions. Demario Donnell made an impressive pick off of Darian Stone right near the three-yard-line. Marty Jones, who also picked off Stone, nabbed his at the one-yard-line and returned it 16 yards while ending the offenses' red zone hopes. Prewitt and Donnell also added pass deflections to their totals, as did Austin Tallant (pictured left). William Dillard collected one of the two fumbles on the day.
"We were better on defense," said head coach Watson Brown. "I did think our defense improved this week and got better this week. It's needed. I've said it all along, I thought our defense would need to carry us a little early in the season to get some of these younger offensive guys some experience."
Several defensive linemen also made things happen on the day, compiling five sacks and forcing a fumble. Defensive ends Harrison Reid and Stepfon Davis-Boyd each tallied two sacks while costing the quarterbacks more than 25 yards.
"Good thing today, I thought was the defense all around," said Brown. "They controlled the line of scrimmage and played well up and down the field."
The offensive struggles came as a little bit of a surprise after last week's early success of the newcomers. But sloppy play and turnovers ended any hope of recovering against the formidable defense.
"We have so many young offensive guys," said Brown. "They didn't take care of the ball. They fumbled it. The linemen jumped offside. We had five turnovers and nine penalties. We can't do that. We have to learn here, that you can't win football games with penalties."
Brown sounded optimistic with the freshman class, but know s it will take time for the youngsters to catch up to players like four-year starter Tre Lamb.
"We have a lot of work to do, but it's going to be a great tape to watch so the young guys can watch themselves. These kids are loaded with talent. We have to have patience with them, but they're going to fine."
With less than two weeks to the season and home opener, Brown knows these next few days are crucial for both his young guys and veterans.
"We have three fundamental days left," said Brown. "Then basically we start working on Hampton on Thursday and then its game week. We've been hitting one another hard and it's been a very, very physical preseason."
The physicality was on display throughout the scrimmage and despite coughing up the ball twice, the rushing game was able to see some success. Eleven Golden Eagles combined for 175 yards on 44 carries and scored two touchdowns.
The Tech quarterbacks struggled to find receivers, but were able to combine for 172 yards through the air.
Punter Chad Zinchini had another strong day, accumulating four punts for an average distance of 47.7 yards. Chris Harris, the primary kick-off man, made two kicks including a touchback. Kicker Zach Sharp finished a perfect 2-for-2 in extra points on the day.
Following the scrimmage, Tech players met fans on the sidelines and signed autographs as a part of the Gathering of Eagles event put on every year by the Golden Eagles. Along with autographs, fans were invited to a pre-scrimmage cookout with free food and drinks.
The Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle football will kick off its regular season at home on Thursday, August 30 at 7 p.m. CT. Tech will take on the Hampton Pirates inside Tucker Stadium.
Season tickets for the 2012 six-game home schedule are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets may also be purchased online at TTUsports.com.