COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Telling his players that their consistency and conditioning need improvement might be a negative coming from a less experienced coach, but those words from 42-year veteran Watson Brown were simply reflections on a first scrimmage following one week of fall camp.
“Those things are correctable,” Brown said after his team battled through an 88-play outing in humid, 86 degree conditions in Tucker Stadium Saturday afternoon. “After one week, you expect some of that.
“What I did see was really good effort,” he added. “This next week we’ll improve our consistency and we’ll continue our conditioning.”
Brown has been through enough first scrimmages to realize that Saturday was just the first of many steps in a quest for the 2015 Ohio Valley Conference championship.
"Our conditioning is not there yet, and we looked tired," he said. "We had a good first week, we didn't have a lot of injuries and we put in a lot of stuff. Next week we'll get back out there, and by our next scrimmage those things can be fixed. We'll turn those things into positives and everybody will keep moving forward."
Following the scrimmage, with the players all meeting on the field with their position coaches, Brown assembled the freshman class to have a word with them.
"Quite a few of them are going to have to play this year," Brown said. "It's a really good group. I told them I could see in their eyes that they were nervouse. They need to settle down quickly and work that out. They are a tremendously talented bunch, and I wanted them to know that."
The thing that caught Brown’s attention was four turnovers by the offense, two interceptions and two lost fumbles, along with five offensive penalties.
“The defense did a nice job,” Brown said. “If we get four turnovers in a game, I think we have a really good chance to win.
“On the other hand, if our offense has four turnovers in 88 plays, and five penalties, we’re going to have a really difficult time winning that game.”
Daniel Pierce, a senior safety from Cleveland, Tenn., made a diving interception on a pass thrown by Ty Jobe, while freshman Anthony Flemister, a safety out of Chattanooga’s Notre Dame High School, picked off a pass from Luke Ward.
The first fumble was forced by linebacker Elliott Normand and recovered by cornerback Bill Dillard, while the other was smothered by redshirt freshman defensive tackle Chris McElderry.
Four Golden Eagle quarterbacks directed three offensive units to a combined 551 yards of offense and five touchdowns, four of which came via the rushing game. Willie Davis, Ladarius Vanlier, Jared Davis and Ty Jobe each scored on the ground, while Colton Belew snared a five-yard scoring strike from Colby Brown.
The team had 317 passing yards on 31-for-45 accuracy. On the ground, the offense rushed 43 times for 234 yards.
A dozen different receivers caught passes in the scrimmage, with Brock McCoin’s six catches for 42 yards topped in the chart. Freshman Darius Stafford was next with five receptions for 54 yards. The yardage leader was Jordan Smith, who caught three passes for 56 yards, including the longest of the day, a 37-yard toss downfield from Davis. Harrell had similar numbers with three catches for 53 yards.
Davis and Brown each threw for 130 yards, with both starting on a streak of completions. Davis completed his first nine passes and finished 12-for-16, while Brown connected his first seven attempts and finished 13 for 16 with one touchdown. Luke Ward was 4-for-10 for 47 yards with an interception, with three dropped passes, while Ty Jobe went 2-for-3 for 10 yards with an interception.
Eleven different players carries the football, topped by redshirt freshman Jordan Jackson with five carries for 44 yards. Jobe had just one carry, breaking free for a 47-yard touchdown jaunt. Others who had several carries included Dorian Carter (four for 42), Jared Davis (six for 26), Jalen Manning (five for 21), Radir Annoor (six for 18), and Willie Davis (seven for 16).
The kicking game was also impressive, with punter Johnathan King crushing his kicks while also holding on placekicks. Sophomore John Arnold and freshman Nick Madonia shared the PAT and field goal opportunities. Madonia nailed a 42-yard field goal for the longest of the day and added a 34-yarder, while Arnold connected on a 38-yard field goal and missed from 42 yards.
The Golden Eagles will spend the coming week going through morning practice sessions, then wrap up the week with the second and final scrimmage of fall camp. That comes on Saturday, Aug. 22, as part of the Gathering of Eagles. The Women's Clinic begins at 10:30 a.m, the picnic lunch is available at 12:30 p.m., and the scrimmage is at 2 p.m.
Following the football scrimmage, fans are also invited to watch the volleyball team when it plays a Purple vs. Gold Scrimmage in Eblen Center, beginning at 4 p.m.
To purchase season football tickets, please call or visit the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center (931-372-3214) or go online at TTUsports.com and select the "tickets" tab.