Red Raider football fans got a taste of what's to come in the annual Red & Black game as alot of newcomers & youngers got to show off their skills in front of a record crowd AND for the first time, a local TV audience.
It's really hard to say who was more impressive in today's scrimmage....the offense or the defense, but both sides indeed showed flashes of greatness. This game should give the both the offense and defense a good deal of confidence going into the summer training & conditioning program. Come fall, they'll have a good bit of film to study to correct their mistakes and tweak things a bit.
We'll begin with the quarterbacks. Cody Hodges, although he did not have Graham Harrell there to compete with, easily solidified the position of starting QB today with his performance. Although he did not throw a touchdown, he moved the ball up and down the field with ease (including in the redzone), and both his scoring drives were ended with touchdown runs, so you could say he was responsible for two touchdowns (plus an earlier field goal). Cody Hodges has a very good arm, much better than most people think. He can really zip the ball in there when he needs to. Phillip Daugherty played fairly well today, showing off his great arm, but still looked lost at times. He threw two picks, one in the first half and one in the second half, a sign that he's still staring down his receivers. He is certainly getting better though. If he ever learns to read through his progressions as well as the previous QBs in this offense, he will be deadly. Ryan Rowland also played very well today, in fact, I would rate his performance just under Cody Hodges' performance. He threw the only touchdown pass of the game, and also threw the highlight pass of the game, a 40 yard strike right into the hands of Anthony Jenkins. He threw the ball on a rope down the middle of the field, right over two defenders, laying it in there where only Jenkins could catch the ball. It was a beautiful play.
The rest of the offense did not disappoint, especially Taurance Rawls. First off: From what I've been told in the past few days, I was wrong about the running back situation. There is no, nor will there be a clear-cut backup to Taurean Henderson. Both Rawls and Shannon Woods are situational backs who will come in when needed. Back to Taurance Rawls. He played brilliantly today. His power while running is absolutely unbelievable. At least three times today I saw him drag at least three defenders with him for an extra 4-5 yards. Woods did not play so well today, but that is mostly to the defense's credit. Whenever he would get the ball, the hole would close up immediately and he would have nowhere to go. He doesn't quite have Rawls' ability to just punch through the hole for 3-4 extra yards quite yet. Taurean Henderson had a typical Taurean Henderson game. Not much else needs to be said, we all know about him.
Of the receivers, the top performers were Danny Amendola, Jarrett Hicks, and Anthony Jenkins, who lead the A.F.R.O.S. with six catches apiece, while Robert Johnson hauled in four, and Marquis Johnson, Slade Hodges, Joel Filani, and Eric Morris each hauled in three. Seven other receivers (including backs) hauled in two catches or less. As mentioned earlier, Anthony Jenkins had the highlight catch of the game, while Danny Amendola & Hicks cranked out solid, chain-moving catches all day. Amendola averaged just over 14 yards per catch himself.
On the defensive side of the ball, the defensive line and the secondary were the crown jewels of today's game. The line picked up four sacks, two by Keyunta Dawson and one apiece by Brett Bischofberger and Jared Williams. Jared Williams had a great day. Two or three times he brought down a running back in the backfield with great pursuit, and was constantly pressuring the quarterbacks. He has trouble shedding blocks when a solid one is put on him, but when he gets free, he's in the quarterback's face in an instant. Clifton Eddington also had a good day vs. the run, he's a great open field tackler, but his coverage skills still need work. The hard-hitting fast-paced comboe of Vincent Meeks and Dwayne Slay did not disappoint today either. Vincent Meeks intercepted the second pass of the game off of Daugherty, and returned it down the near sideline eerily similar to his Holiday Bowl pick. Later on, Slade Hodges hauled in a Daugherty pass down the middle, but was immediately decapitated by Dwayne Slay and fumbled the ball. Here's hoping that we get to see alot of that from Slay this upcoming season. Brinkley once again proved himself to be the best linebacker on the field, too bad Setencich can't see this, and Paul Williams had a good day as well.
Hodges - 17 of 23 for 196 yards
Daugherty - 13 of 21 for 125 yards, 2 INT
Rowland - 14 of 19 for 107 yards, 1 TD
Henderson - 7 carries for 30 yards, 1 TD
Rawls - 4 carries for 30 yards
Woods - 5 carries for 10 yards, 1 TD
Martinez - 4 carries for 7 yards
Amendola - 6 catches for 87 yards
Jenkins - 6 catches for 71 yards
Hicks - 6 catches for 61 yards
R. Johnson - 4 catches for 25 yards
Filani - 3 catches for 32 yards
M. Johnson - 3 catches for 26 yards
S. Hodges - 3 catches for 28 yards, 1 F
Morris - 3 catches for 21 yards, 1 TD
Walker - 2 catches for 23 yards
Rawls - 2 catches for 19 yards
Hildebrandt - 2 catches for 10 yards
Henderson - 1 catch for 19 yards
Dorsey - 1 catch for 7 yards
Woods - 1 catch for 7 yards
Douglas - 1 catch for 6 yards
Parsons - 1 catch for 6 yards
Meeks - 1 INT
Slay - 1 FF
Bischofberger - 1 sack
J. Williams - 1 sack
Dawson - 2 sacks
Brinkley - 1 INT