Practice Report 20 - Morency Runs Big in Scrimmage

Veteran tailback Vernand Morency showed the form he did late last season in the most important and the longest scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday. Going primarily against the first team defense in the 123-play scrimmage, Morency finished with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

It was a situational scrimmage, but early on it had the look and the tempo of drives with the offense taking the ball on its own 35-yard line and moving it. The chains and the down marker weren't always consistent with the drive, but it was constant situations testing the offense and the defense. On the first possession, Morency took a handoff and went off tackle for a quick 10 yards, but he was hit and stumbled. That's when he put his hand down regained his balance and ran for 10 more yards before being tackled. Last season Morency came on in place of Tatum Bell to post two 200-yard plus rushing efforts and finish with 918 yards and eight touchdowns for the season.

Later in the scrimmage, Morency ripped off runs of 15 yards, 10 yards and another 20-yard run before finishing with a blasting and twisting 14-yard touchdown run and a one-yard dive for another score. The two touchdowns both came in red zone scrimmage work.

The offense gained 296 yards on the ground on 66 attempts for an average per play of 4.5 yards per play. That figure takes into account the first-, second- and third-team offense. However, it does not factor in the four sacks by the defense.

Other outstanding rushing efforts included Greg Jones, who carried 13 times for 40 yards. Jones had scoring runs in red zone work of 12 and 5 yards. The 12-yarder showed great strength as he carried a couple of defenders with him into the orange end zone of Boone Pickens Stadium. Calvin Roberts had 21 yards on 10 carries, fullback Julius Crosslin had 19 yards on three carries, Shawn Willis carried once for three yards, and Chad Baniecki also had one carry for four yards.

Greg Gold had 35 yards on 12 carries. Gold showed some real flash as he broke off a 12-yard run against the second-team defense. The quarterbacks combined for 67 yards rushing with Jamie Beeghley's 20-yard scramble being the biggest gain of the day. Donovan Woods was the leading rusher among the quarterbacks with 36 yards on 11 carries, some of those scrambles and some designed runs.

The Cowboy secondary again made it tough for the OSU quarteback to pass the ball as even offensive guard Sam Mayes said the defense should be familiar enough to know where their teammates routes are going. On one check at the line of scrimmage, cornerback Darrent Williams yelled out the route and was exactly right on. Still, the offense threw for 211 yards.

Donovan Woods completed 10-of-22 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. He found his brother D'Juan Woods for a 20-yard connection in the end zone. His most impressive completions included a 27-yard pass, again to D'Juan, to set the offense up with the ball at the defense's 28-yard line. After a seven-yard run by Morency and a 10-yard hookup from Woods to tight end Billy Bajema the ball was taken back to the other end of the field. It almost assuredly would have resulted in a score had the drive been finished. Woods also found Chijuan Mack for a 19-yard gain as Mack made a leaping catch over two Cowboy defenders.

Al Pena completed 2-of-7 passing attempts for 32 yards. Jamie Beeghley, battling Pena for the backup role, hit on 3-of-6 passes including a 20-yard touchdown pass to walk-on wide receiver Luke Frazier. Redshirt freshman Mike Friess was 2-for-3 connecting with freshman tight end Justin Waller for 19 yards and freshman wide receiver Seth Newton for 16 yards.

The defense had numerous big plays and stopped several drives as well as answering in many of the situations in the scripted scrimmage. Grant Jones did a good job early of sniffing out a screen and forcing the ball to be thrown away. Backup corner Andrew Alexander had a big hit that echoed around the mostly empty stadium.

Registering sacks were linebacker Pagitte McGee, linebacker Lawrence Pinson and defensive end Marque Fountain, who followed his sack of Al Pena with a stop on Greg Gold for a one-yard loss. The other sack came courtesy of Xavier Lawson-Kennedy, who is trying to impress the defensive coaches by showing some improvement over his play of last season. Tackles for losses came courtesy of Darrell Franklin, defensive end Jerry Don Bray, defensive tackles Brad Girtman and Cody Townsend, safety Jon Holland and defensive end Maurice Cummings.

The biggest defensive highlight came early as potential All American cornerback Darrent Williams came in and swiped the ball in front of wide receiver D'Juan Woods and returned the ball to the 11-yard line. It looked like he may have had a touchdown, but an official marked him out at the 11.

There was plenty of special teams work as the punt return team combined for four returns for 178 yards against a scout punt team. Daniel McLemore went 58 yards for a score and the Cowboys leading punt returner Darrent Williams finished on the last punt with a 61-yard return for a score.

On kick-off returns Robert Jones drew oohs and aahs from his teammates and the few onlookers, mainly parents of players, when he took the first kickoff 84 yards for a score. McLemore later went 96 yards with another kickoff.

Punter Cole Farden averaged 46 yards on three punt in live action. His first punt was out of the end zone and resulted in a net 48-yard punt as he angled it out of bounds with no return.

The scrimmage ended with a live field goal kicking session that had Jason Ricks banging through an extra point following the late score by Morency. The freshman from Round Rock, Texas, then hit a 42-yard field goal. Redshirt freshman Luke Roberts connected from 43 yards, and then Ricks jumped back in to try a 49-yarder, but head coach Les Miles said he wanted it from farther. The ball was moved back for a 54-yard try and with the entire squad standing around the formation screaming Ricks got the ball up quickly over the all out rush and nailed the 54-yard try with plenty of room to spare.

The scrimmage turned out to be a fairly even affair. There was good and bad on both sides of the ball, which keeps a head coach from going home and having more than the normal worries as he prepares a team to start the season.

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