Tech football will host its annual spring game tomorrow at 1 p.m. and wrap up its spring practice with an additional week of practice before putting away equipment until the fall.
There was noticeable improvement in a lot of players from week one to week two of practice, Head Coach Watson Brown said.
“I’m watching individuals more than I am team stuff in the spring,” Brown said. “I feel like a lot got better from week one through the scrimmage in week two.”
The football team held an inter-squad scrimmage last Saturday after completing its first week of practice in full pads.
Brown noted that the offense performed well during the first scrimmage. There was only one fumble, and both squads were able to move the ball consistently.
“[We] run a lot of plays and eat a lot of clock – that’s what we like to do,” Brown said.
Brown felt that the defense needed to improve up front against the run but was encouraged that the younger players, throughout the defense, were getting reps and making plays during the scrimmage.
The Golden Eagles’ defensive secondary has limped through the spring due to injuries. The team does not have many of its projected starters and key players practicing, but Brown hopes that when they return they will lead the defense.
One player Brown hopes will contribute the rest of the spring and into next season is rising junior James Huguely. Brown said that Huguely has the potential to be an all-OVC cornerback for the Golden Eagles.
“James came on late last year then had a concussion and missed the last three games,” Brown said. “He is really good this spring.”
Another upperclassman Brown is hopeful to have back at the beginning of the season is two-year starting senior safety Marty Jones, who was injured in the second game of last season. Jones had been a key player for the defense the previous two full years, seeing action in every game. Jones also racked up 15 tackles in the two games he played during the 2012 season.
The defense has returned Malcolm Mitchell, Lamar Moore and Jordan Johnson up front and is looking to them to be an influence in the fall.
“I think we have a shot at winning [the OVC championship] again,” Brown said. “Personally I thought we did last year.”
On the other side of the ball, the team’s offense is hoping to put up big numbers this fall.
“The offense we’ve got this year might be better than the last two,” Brown said. “We’re real deep at running back. We could play four guys there.”
The slot receiver position also looks quite stout with returning rising junior Cody Matthews. He was the team’s second-leading receiver a season ago in many categories, including total receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Ladarius Vanlier is also back and looking to light up the secondary from the slot. Senior Zack Ziegler is out for spring practice, but he will be back for the fall.
The battle for starting quarterback is closed for the time being. Brown was happy with the performance of rising junior Darian Stone and has named him the starter.
“Darian Stone has stepped up right now, today, as our starting QB,” said Brown. “He’s done a really good job.”
You can see the Golden Eagles in action during the annual Purple/Gold Spring Scrimmage tomorrow at 1 p.m. in Tucker Stadium. After that will be a few more spring practices, then a long wait until the 2013 season home opener against Cumberland University Aug. 29.