Scrimmage Report: Saturday, August 16

The familiar Pinkel mantra was violated several times on Saturday, "We cannot beat ourselves if we are going to win!" Five fumbles during the scrimmage violates everything that Pinkel teams represent. The worst news was that Xzavie Jackson apparently has injured one of his feet.

After the Tigers scrimmaged on Saturday, many things were clear: the first-team offense gained yardage like the first team offense, the first-team defense gave up yardage more like last year's first-team defense, and there were way too many fumbles and mistakes.

The offense fumbled five times, losing two of them, and coach Gary Pinkel was less than pleased at that.

"You're not going to play in our program if you fumble the football," Pinkel said. "I don't care if you're a tight end, receiver, running back, the quarterback, anybody. If you're not responsible with the ball, you don't play in our program. The good news is those things can be coached and we can take care of them."

Overall, though, Pinkel said the practice was "OK," but that the team is making too many mistakes in the details. That includes the fumbles and four false starts, two by Scott Paffrath.

It was hard to find too many problems with Brad Smith's day. Smith ran the first drive of the day, which ended after only three plays, two runs and an incompletion. After that, he rarely missed. On a touchdown drive against the second-team defense, Smith completed five-of-six passes for 37 yards. His favorite targets for the day were receiver Thomson Omboga and tight end J.D. McCoy.

Omboga had few problems making catches in the middle and holding onto the ball.

"He's a tough guy and willing to make plays," Smith said. "He's a playmaker."

McCoy found open spots in the defense four gains of 10 and 9 yards on the touchdown drive. McCoy has been lost in the hype of junior college transfer Victor Sesay, but on Saturday, he showed the same calm, disciplined play that has kept him at the top of the depth chart.

"That's gonna happen when you get a new guy," McCoy said. "It doesn't break my heart or anything. I'll show what I can do, and there's people out there that know I'm still here."

Running back Zack Abron's day was cut short when he rolled an ankle. He was having a pretty good day until then, especially on runs for 12 and 16 yards. Damien Nash, though, didn't have quite the same fortune. In addition to his two fumbles, Nash only had five runs for more than three yards, and he was constantly stopped at the line.

"I had a couple good runs, but if you look at my zeros and my good runs, it don't average out," Nash said.

The best running back performances came from walk-on Beau Viehmann and freshman Marcus Woods. Viehmann had the play of the day, a 51-yard run on the 10th play of the day. Viehmann had only one run for less than five yards. Woods keeps on impressing coaches, making it hard to believe he could be redshirted. Woods had runs of 5, 7, 7 and 10 yards, and also made a nice play on a screen pass for an 11-yard gain.

After the first three drives, the defense had a lot of trouble making stops, no matter which offense was on the field.

The defensive line played without Xzavie Jackson, who broke a foot early in the scrimmage, and Brian Smith, who had an eye infection.

The worst came for the first-team defense when backup quarterback Sonny Riccio and most of the offensive backups led a drive for a touchdown and a drive that resulted in a missed 36-yard field goal.

"The No. 1 defense, we need to tighten up and execute," cornerback Michael Harden said. "We're giving up too many yards, and we can't allow that."

Safety Nino Williams and lineman Kene Chukwuanu had fumble recoveries, and freshman linebacker Lorenzo Williams made a good interception.

Top kicker Alex Petterson made field goals from 48 and 44 yards, but missed from 36 and 54 yards. Challenger Mike Matheny made from 44, but missed from 36, 44 and 48.


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