April 6, 2013
NASHVILLE - The Commodore defense put together one of its best outings of the spring Saturday by controlling much of a two-hour scrimmage in Vanderbilt Stadium.
The defense produced two touchdowns on three turnovers and consistently pressured Commodore quarterbacks during the 95-play affair that marked the team's final full-contact scrimmage until the Black & Gold Spring Game is staged Saturday, April 13.
The impressive defensive performance comes after two scrimmages earlier this spring that featured plenty of offensive fireworks. It sets up the likelihood of a highly competitive finale next weekend for James Franklin's squad.
The head coach said both sides of the ball produced big plays during the scrimmage while praising the Commodores' overall effort. He said the scrimmage is more evidence that the team's defense is improving with each spring drill.
"On Friday, the defense really got after the offense and I think that happened today for the most part," Franklin said. "The offense made some plays and did some nice things, but in terms of sacks and pressuring the quarterback, the defense did really well turning over the ball and scoring some touchdowns.
"The offense has improved dramatically compared to where we were at the last two years at this time, but our defense is stepping up and maturing. The defense has improved dramatically during the spring."
Most importantly, the coach said his Commodores continue to get better and stay healthy. "This entire spring, we've gotten great work, great reps and remained healthy. That's the most important thing is to get to the Ole Miss game healthy," Franklin added.
The squad will be off the practice field Sunday and Monday, and return for practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday prior to the Black & Gold Spring Game. Kickoff for the spring finale next Saturday is 1 p.m., CT.
The summary of the scrimmage follows:
Drives from the 5-Yard Line
Series I After Austyn Carta-Samuels runs for 5 yards, safety Kenny Ladler deflects a second-down pass intended for Jordan Matthews.
The drive continues on a tough inside rush by Wesley Tate and Matthews' acrobatic catch of a tipped pass. Later facing 4th-and-short, Carta-Samuels and Fitz Lassing fail to connect on a sideline route.
Series II Paris Head produces the first big defensive play. Reacting quickly on an out route, the cornerback steps in front of a receiver to grab the Josh Grady pass attempt. Head turns the play into six points by fighting off a tackler near the goal line.
Series III After Brian Kimbrow gains 14 yards on three straight running plays, the defense gets tackles for loss from Stephen Weatherly and Ladarius Banks to quickly stop another possession.
Series IV The defense uses individual plays by Alex Hysong and Torey Agee to force a quick 3-and-out.
Drives from the 25-Yard Line
Series I Kyle Woestmann dominates the series from his defensive end position. Woestmann leaves the offense in 3rd-and-long after grabbing quarterback sacks on consecutive plays. A short pass from Carta-Samuels to Tate comes up far short of first down yardage.
Series II Carta-Samuels guides the offense on its first productive drive, a 6-play, 75-yard possession that ends with Carta-Samuels and Lassing connecting on a 10-yard touchdown pass in the left flat. The impressive drive includes a 16-yard reception by Lassing, runs of 15 and 10 yards by Carta-Samuels, and two carries for 25 yards by Jerron Seymour.
Series III The defense forces a quick punting situation when Patton Robinette's 7-yard completion to Steven Scheu is short of the 1st down marker.
Series IV Karl Butler punishes Seymour on a 1st down carry that results in a 2-yard loss. After Seymour gains 10 yards on an inside carry, defenders Ja'karri Thomas and Adam Butler combine to sack Robinette for an 8-yard loss. On 3rd down, Robinette fails to hook up with his intended receiver.
Series IV Grady directs a 10-play drive that ends just outside field goal range when Patrick Sutton breaks up a 3rd down pass to Dillon van der Wal. The drive starts with a forceful tackle by Scot Aiello of running back Will Fritz. During the possession, Grady scrambles to buy enough time to find Tip McKenzie for 20 yards on 3rd down. Late in the drive, Agee contributes his second impressive defensive stop.
Drives Starting at Midfield
Series I Woestmann continues to cause havoc for the offense. After Andre Hal nearly intercepts a Carta-Samuel pass intended for Matthews, Woestmann forces a punting situation by earning his third sack of the practice.
Series II The defensive line continues to impress as interior tackle Vince Taylor makes an athletic play hustling to the sideline to stop Matthews for a short gain. After Tate gains a 1st down, Stephen Weatherly sacks Carta-Samuels on a 3rd-and-short play.
Series III The offense rebounds with a quick, 2-play scoring drive. On 1st down, Grady connects with Kris Kentera for 26 yards. On the next play, Trey Wilkins catches a short pass, eludes one tackler in the secondary and goes 24 yards for the touchdown.
Series IV The offense gains little on three plays. Darien Bryant stops the scrambling Grady for a 1-yard loss on 3rd down.
Series V Weatherly's second big play - a 3rd down sack of Robinette - stops another drive.
Drives from the 25-yard Line
Series I The defense gets its second touchdown of the scrimmage when Steven Clarke intercepts a deep sideline pass and goes 95 yards for the score. Clarke gets into the end zone by eluding two tacklers inside the 10-yard line.
Series II Carta-Samuels guides a quick response as the offense goes 35 yards after an initial holding penalty. The possession is sparked by a 23-yard reception by Matthews. It ends with another Carta-Samuels to Matthews hookup from 14 yards. Despite the score, the defense produced sacks from Kellen Williams and Caleb Azubike.
Series III Robinette produces his first touchdown drive. After rushes of 14 yards by Kimbrow and 10 yards by Seymour, the score comes on a 1-yard plunge by Seymour.
Two-Minute Drill Possessions
Series I Using the no-huddle offense, Carta-Samuels guides a 9-play, 58-yard scoring drive. After connecting with Kentera and Tate on short patterns and Tate's 12-yard carry, the offense misfires on three straight plays inside the 10-yard line. On 4th down, Chris Boyd makes one of the offense's top highlights, catching a pass from Carta-SamuelS in the corner of the end zone.
Series II Wilkins comes up another outstanding play, diving to catch Grady's deep pass for a 37-yard gain. Despite Wilkins' effort, penalties force a long field goal attempt on 4th down.
Goal Line Possessions from the 4-Yard Line
Series I The defense capped their impressive day by forcing a turnover near its goal line. After Tate gained two yards on a pair of short carries, he lost the ball on a 3rd down rush up the middle. Ladler recovered the fumble, adding on a 20-yard return.
Series II Seymour impresses on three straight carries, scoring from the 1-yard line on 3rd down.
Series III After a 1-yard rush by Tate, Carta-Samuels concludes the scrimmage with a 3-yard TD pass to Kentera.