Aug. 15, 2006
ATHENS, Ohio - The Bobcat football team held its first live scrimmage of the preseason on Tuesday. The workout featured a variety of matchups and lineups on both sides of the ball.
Both the offense and defense made big plays in the 80-plus play scrimmage. Offensively, the Bobcats had five plays of at least 15 yards and picked up at least 10 yards on eight other snaps. On defense, the Bobcats recorded six sacks (the ball was blown dead by the official without the quarterback being hit) and registered three interceptions.
Senior Austen Everson (Brentwood, Tenn.) took the first snaps of the day and finished the scrimmage 6-of-7 for 94 yards through the air. Sophomore Brandon Jones (Marietta, Ga.) completed 7-of-8 attempts for 89 yards.
Freshman receiver Taylor Price (Hilliard, Ohio) got the offense off to a good start by outmuscling a defensive back to haul in a 48-yard pass from senior quarterback Austen Everson (Brentwood, Tenn.) on the first possession of the day. The play set up a three-yard touchdown run by junior Kalvin McRae (Decatur, Ga.)
"That play really got us going," Offensive Coordinator Tim Albin said. "That play probably was an interception, but we took it away. Those types of catches are huge. He got us jumpstarted. We have to have those types of plays down the field. They can turn the game around."
The Bobcat offense appeared to rip off another huge play when McRae took a screen pass from Everson and weaved his way down the field, breaking two tackles and rumbling for 61 yards. The play was called back, however, when the official ruled Everson would have been sacked. The offense was still able to put points on the board on the drive. Everson rolled to his right and hit senior tight end Rudy Sylvan (Suisan City, Calif.) along the sideline for a 28-yard gain to give the offense a first down at the defense's 42-yard line. Everson moved the offense into the red zone with a 10-yard pass to junior Justin Fitzgerald (Richmond, Va.) that put the ball at the 14-yard line. Freshman Justin Gomes (Erie, Pa.) ended the possession with a 26-yard field goal.
McRae sat out the rest of the day after gaining 13 yards and scoring one touchdown on five carries.
After two three-and-outs, the offense once again found the end zone. Owens started the drive with a five-yard run and 30-yard sprint down the left sideline to put the ball at the defense's 30-yard line. A pass interference penalty preceded a 14-yard jaunt by junior Josh Abrams (Dunwoody, Ga.) that put the offense first-and-goal at the two. Redshirt freshman Mitch Morsillo (Moon, Pa.) did the honors with a two-yard run over right guard.
The defense came through with turnovers on its next two possessions. Junior Todd Koenig (Nanty-Glo, Pa.) intercepted a pass that ricocheted off a receiver, and sophomore Dustin Tatum (Lafayette, La.) stopped the next drive with an interception.
The offense scored its third and final touchdown of the day two drives later. Redshirt freshman quarterback Josh Febus (Dublin, Ohio) found rookie receiver Terrence McCrae down the middle for a 55-yard scoring strike. Febus was 4-for-5 for 81 yards and the touchdown.
The defense came back to force a turnover on downs. Sophomore safety Michael Mitchell (Ft. Thomas, Ky.) stuffed a fourth-and-two run by Morsillo short of the marker. T.J. Wright intercepted junior Brad Bower (Burr Ridge, Ill.) on first play of the next possession for the defense's final turnover. Bower completed six of his pass attempts for 56 yards.
The Bobcats open the 2006 season on Sept. 2 at Peden Stadium against Tennessee-Martin. For information on tickets and the new Bobcat Family Package, which includes two adult and two youth (ages 3-18) season tickets for $79, call the Ohio Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-575-CATS.
Junior safety Michael Hinton
On his assessment of the scrimmage:
"Today was much better than I expected. I think we've coming right along from spring through summer to know. We've just been trying to get better each and every day. There's still some things we have to work on, but that's the purpose of camp - come in and fine tune things that you haven't been able to work on throughout the summer. The coaches are working very hard to put us in the places we need to be. We just have to keep working hard."
On the importance of the live scrimmage for him after not playing in a game for three seasons:
"These scrimmages are important for me to get my game speed back up and just get a feel for the game. They're pretty short, but I try to use the time I do get in there to get a good feel for things. It's going well. I feel good out there. I get a little excited every time I get a chance to go live so I try to make sure I don't get too nervous and use a lot of energy before the scrimmage so I'll be ready."
Freshman linebacker Stafford Gatling
On his first live action at the college level:
"At first I was nervous, but once you get that first contact, it comes back to you. It was exciting to be out here on the college level being productive. I feel pretty good."
On his adjustment to the college game:
"I'm starting to get into the flow now. I still have to learn some more about the playbook, but once I get that, I should be alright."
Sophomore quarterback Brandon Jones
On the team's first live action of the season:
"It felt good. It felt very refreshing. I thought we had some pretty good drives, but we stalled out a little bit at the end. We're focusing on consistency. Hopefully, we can get that going and everything will be good."
On the plays the receivers made:
"It's good to see that because we gained a certain amount of confidence in the receivers. It's not like we didn't have confidence in them before, but you don't know they can do it until it happens. Now that we know they can make plays, we'll start putting more balls in the air and letting them go over DBs and make plays."
On what the offense needs to improve on:
"We need to work on being more consistent and just finishing drives. We can't get ourselves in second-and-longs, and we have to stay out of third-down situations."