Nix, Markuson talk scrimmage results

Co-Offensive Coordinator Mike Markuson and Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix were both pretty upbeat after Saturday's scrimmage. Read their thoughts inside.

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix is a demanding coach, and he'll tell you what's on his mind in an interview as well.

So, you know you aren't getting a lot of bull or coach speak when he talks.

After Saturday's scrimmage in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Nix was as upbeat, perhaps, as he's ever been after an initial full scrimmage.

"I saw a lot of positives out there," said Nix. "Guys were hustling and flying around. The effort was good and the tackling was very good for the most part. We were pretty physical, and that's a good place to start."

Tyrone Nix

Nix's troops were good in the Red Zone and, as every DC loves to see, created some turnovers.

"We were pretty good in the Red Zone. We didn't give up a lot in tight quarters. We also caused a couple of turnovers with a couple of interceptions which were good to see," Tyrone allowed.

Like every coach, Nix is trying to find more depth. A couple of backups stood out to him Saturday.

"(DE) Gerald Rivers has not played a lot, but he's coming on now and doing some real good things," Nix noted. "(OLB) Joel Kight doesn't have a lot of experience, but he's playing steady and has earned his number one status.

"Freshman LB Clarence Jackson is flying around and making some plays. Right now, he's in the top two at his position (behind Kight) and I think he'll just get better and better with repetitions. And I can't wait to get Mike Marry (hamstring) back. We feel like we are starting to see some depth develop in certain areas. We just have to get those guys a little more consistent."

Nix had two goals for the scrimmage - Red Zone effectiveness and finishing strong.

"I thought we accomplished both those goals," he stated. "We made plays at the end just like we were making them at the beginning. Finishing is critical and I saw some of that today."

Ja-Mes Logan

Tyrone was then asked to burst the bubble a little bit. What didn't go well?

"We gave up a few big plays that I didn't like too much. We also did not play pass defense as well as I would like," he continued. "It seemed like we were in position to make those plays, but the offense seemed to get all the breaks on batted balls or tipped balls. Maybe it will go our way the next time because we were in position for the most part. Give the receivers credit - they made good catches with someone right on them."

Nix is not only anxious to get Marry back, but DT Justin Smith, making a comeback from a broken foot and two surgeries, missed most of the week with a lung infection and Tyrone wants him back in the fold as well.

"You can never have too many tackles," he smiled. "Unfortunately, he's been hurt or sick a lot. Hopefully, this will be the start of some good health for him."

The defense, as is usually the case in first scrimmages, was fairly base and orthodox, but Nix would not use that as an excuse for the big plays the offense did make.

"You have to be consistent and make plays, no matter what we call. We did for most of the day, but we gave up a couple too many," he closed. "Overall, though, this was a good first week and a good start to our fall camp."

Co-Offensive Coordinator Mike Markuson was in a good mood as well after the scrimmage.

"We made some plays. That's the bottom line and a good sign," he said. "We did not do a great job in the Red Zone and we have to eliminate the lost yardage plays, but overall, we did some good things for the first scrimmage.

"We were up and down during the week, but we got better, and that's the main goal."

Right off the bat, Markuson shook things up on the forward wall, pulling A.J. Hawkins from number one center due to week-long snapping issues, and replaced him with freshman Evan Swindall.

Mike Markuson

"He did perfect. No problems with the snap. Jerrell Powe put a couple of swim moves on him and got around him a couple of times, but besides that, we didn't have a ball on the ground and that's a good thing," Mike noted.

Although Co-Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader handles the quarterbacks, Markuson was asked his take on the situation.

"My take is that we are in a good place at that position. We have Nathan Stanley, who held the team together this summer and has done a lot of good things this fall so far; Randall Mackey, a junior college transfer who has lived up to his hype so far; and Jeremiah Masoli, who is a cool customer, great in the huddle and makes big plays out of plays that look to be going nowhere," Mike said. "I'm real proud of where they are after one week of practice. All three of them."

Markuson was also complimentary of the wide receivers.

"The biggest surprise to me is Melvin Harris. All of them are making plays, but at 6-6 or 6-7, that guy can be a real weapon. He's holding on to the ball now and he's making big plays. He could be unstoppable when you throw it up high and he can use his height," said Mike. "We have other guys who are calling for the ball and making plays as well."

The running game got a "not bad" from Markuson.

"We can do better in that area, but we are making a few plays there. We are creating a few creases up front and our backs are running hard. We have a variety of styles with our backs and all have added something to the package," he explained.

Overall, Markuson was pleased with the first week of practice.

"We just have to keep grinding it out, but we did OK for a first week. The guys were getting adjusted to the heat and having the pads on, but they fought through it for the most part. We had some days where we struggled but some day where we did well," he closed. "We've seen some good things and corrected the things that weren't good.

"We just need to really have a good week next week before school starts and keep building. We need to keep getting better and I think they will."

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