"They played a lot more than us," starting cornerback Jerraud Powers says of the young defensive backs. "The main thing about them is that we know they're not going to get everything right with the scheme and everything we're trying to do. We just want to see them compete. That's the main thing I want to see and I think Coach (Paul) Rhoads wants to see–just compete and them out there trying.
"From what I saw today, we gave up a couple of plays," Powers continues. "That's going to happen, especially with us being young back there. But they were out there competing. There are a lot of things that we need to work on to get better, but I think for the first scrimmage they did okay."
Among the true freshmen hoping for early playing time in the secondary are Neiko Thorpe, D'Antoine Hood, Harry Adams, Drew Cole and Christian Thompson. Tommy Tuberville singled out Thorpe and Hood in his post-scrimmage press conference.
The veteran defenders didn't play as much as the younger ones. Part of that was because the coaches wanted to get a closer look at some of the unproven players and part of that because the first-team defense was able to get off the field quickly on its drives, according to Powers.
"We played the first few series," he explains. "How we do our scrimmages, I told the defense, ‘If you get a three and out, you're off the field. However long the offense is out there driving, you've got to stay on the field.' I think the first series was a four play or five-play drive that they ended up kicking a field goal. We were off pretty quickly. In the second series I think we had a three-and-out or a four-play series and we were off the field. I think we did pretty good from a first-team standpoint, but there are still going to be a lot of things we need to work on.
"I didn't think we tackled well in the open field," Powers adds, "but that will happen being our first scrimmage with everybody so anxious just to get out there. I remember in the spring in our first scrimmage we had a lot of missed tackles. Then in the next scrimmage we only had about four or five. That was expected, but that's definitely something we're going to have to work on this week coming up getting ready for the next scrimmage."
During the spring, Rhoads was unhappy with the focus of his defense before and at the beginning of scrimmages, but Powers says that the defense was better early than late.
"I thought we started off well," he notes. "I thought everybody was excited. Nobody was lackadaisical to start the scrimmage off."
Powers says the highlight of the scrimmage for him was watching Spencer Pybus, another freshman singled out by Tuberville in the press conference.
"I guess (the highlight was) seeing Pybus, the freshman linebacker, he was out there making a lot of plays," Powers says. "That was just exciting to see a young linebacker like that. Looking at our defense everybody says our depth is at our linebackers and to see him coming up, stepping up and making a whole lot of plays it was exciting to see."
Evaluating the offense, Powers says that sophomore receiver Tim Hawthorne was a bright spot.
"I thought Tim made a couple of key third-down catches on us," Powers states. "I remember we had a third and long and he caught one and broke it out on the sideline on us. I thought he stood out a little bit. I thought Brad (Lester) and Ben Tate ran the ball well, especially late in the scrimmage. That's what stood out the most."
"I didn't think that either stood out in particular," Powers says of the two QBs. "It looked like basically they were in their regular groove, their regular routine. If I'm Coach (Tony) Franklin I don't know how I separate the two again. They still look like they're on the same pace, the same level and they're leading the offense great. There's not one slacking in leadership. That's what you look for in a quarterback is leadership, and they're both giving it."
Overall, Powers says the scrimmage was "a draw" between the offense and defense.
"I think it was pretty much balanced," he says. "Going into this next week and getting ready for the next scrimmage, I think it will tell the tale then."