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Individuals Shine During Hatters’ Second Scrimmage

Stetson scrimmage 2014A number of players took advantage of Saturday morning’s football scrimmage at Stetson’s Athletics Training Center to step into the spotlight.

The Hatters went through a 140-play scrimmage that included goal-line work on both ends of the field as well as two-minute sessions. The Stetson players will have one more opportunity to catch the eyes of the coaching staff when the Hatters hold their final major scrimmage on Wednesday night at Spec Martin Memorial Stadium. That scrimmage is set to start at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Fans who have not yet purchased their season tickets for the Hatters six home games this fall will have an opportunity Wednesday night to meet with Athletics Ticket Office personnel and literally choose their seats for the coming season.

Hatters coach Roger Hughes (pictured above) said Saturday’s scrimmage was a lot like any other scrimmage: there was good and bad. One thing he certainly was not happy about was the number of penalty flags that hit the ground.

“It was a lot like and NFL preseason game today because it seemed as if the officials had a quota on flags to be thrown,” Hughes said. “On the other hand, we were the ones causing the flags to be thrown. We just made way too many mistakes. We took a step back from the standpoint of execution.”

There were a total of 22 penalties on the day, 16 of which were called against the offensive unit. Hughes said there were several reasons for the increased number of penalties from last week – more of the offense has been installed, more of the younger players were involved with the scrimmage, and the defense was doing more to get the offensive players thinking instead of executing.

While the defense did perform better in the second scrimmage, the unit was still without a number of standouts, including preseason All-American Donald Payne. Others in the starting secondary – corners Chris Atkins and Glenn Adesoji as well as safety Ryan Powers – saw little or no action as well.

“Defensively, I thought we came out hard and set the tone early,” Hughes said. “But then, after we gave up one big play defensively, we got our heads down a little. They have to find a way to come back.

The defense forced two punts, had two safeties and forced a turnover right away. That is the kind of high-pressure defense that we have to play. Those guys also have to understand that when you play a high-pressure defense like we do, you are going to give us some big plays, that is just how it works. You can’t let that affect what you are doing. You have to get right back in there and keep playing hard.”

While the offense struggle early, they were able to connect on some big plays. Those plays included long runs by sophomore Jerami Singleton (66 yards) and freshman Craig Carrington (46 and 45 yards) as well as a pair of long pass plays – one of 50 yards from sophomore Ryan Tentler to freshman Darian Wright and the other for a 54-yard touchdown from Jonathan Jerozal to Mike Yonker, both sophomores.

It was some of those younger players, including Carrington and Wright, who caught Hughes’ attention.

“Both of those kids are going to step in and help us as freshmen,” Hughes said. “Two others that people may not notice are Charles Wallace and Jared Gleason in the offensive line. Those guys are going to be very good players as well and they are moving up the depth chart.”

Overall, the offense piled up 611 total yards, 398 through the air on 32-of-57 passes, and 213 on 59 rush attempts.

Tentler led the five quarterbacks, passing for 176 yards and a touchdown by completing 11-of-18 attempts. Jerozal hit on 7-of-15 passes for 126 yards and two scores but was also intercepted once. Junior Blake Plattsmier completed 9-of-13 passes for 68 yards and a score and was also intercepted once.

On the ground, Singleton and Carrington led the way, rushing for 106 and 104 yards respectively while both rushing for a touchdown. Chris Crawford (5-86) and Yonker (4-85) were the leading receivers with Ryan Selimos(4-68) and Wright (3-64) both having good days as well.

“We are excited about our receiving corps and we think we have five or six, maybe even seven, that we can win with and even the guys behind them aren’t bad,” Hughes said. “The nice thing about the competition we have is that it makes everyone get better.”

On the defensive side of the ball there were several young players who also stood out. That group included sophomores Marlin Hall and Devon Jones-Stewart along with freshman Eric Martin.

Marlin Hall made a couple of really good plays on the ball,” Hughes said. “It is always good to have a couple of guys because safeties have to fill in on the run. We held Ryan Powers out a good bit today and that gives Marlin a chance to get in there. I think he is certainly becoming the type of player we thought he could be when we recruited him.”

Hall had one of the two interceptions on a diving, one-handed, catch and also had a pair of pass breakups. Jones-Stewart, who moved from a backup role in the secondary to defensive end, continued to make plays, recording three sacks and another tackle for loss.

“Devin had a very good day and he has been having a lot of good days in practice,” Hughes said. “He has been a pick machine because it seems like every ball that goes up or is loose he is on. Another guy that I thought played well is Eric Martin. He is a real physical corner who we think can help us.”

Play was also improved on the defensive line, which is led by sophomore Davion Belk, who opened things by recovering a bad pitch on one of the very first plays of the day. He added a sack and a tackle for loss. Other defensive linemen had big plays as well, including Eddie Curry (TFL), Andrew Green (TFL), Curtis Young (TFL),Shayne White (Sack) and Matt Mines (TFL).

“We did a couple of different things today,” Hughes said of the defensive line. “We are experimenting with a couple of different fronts and we are moving a little bit more. The guys are also more sound, more in their gaps and where they are supposed to be. Obviously that is where we have to get a lot better.”

With just two weeks left before the season-opener at Warner, Hughes said the time has come for the focus of practices to change to game preparation. With two more scrimmages on the schedule this week, there is still much to be done to prepare for the opening game.

“We have to get better at getting our personnel into the game,” Hughes said. “We have to get better on special teams of getting personnel into the game. We have to hone in on who our special teams guys are and get better in that area. We have to cover a lot of different special situations such as a kick after a safety and all of the other little situations that might happen.

“During the scrimmage on Wednesday night we are going to try to polish and fine-tune what we are doing. If there is a question about who is going to be on the bus for the trip to Warner, we want to get those guys evaluated.”

Challenge Answered and Issued: The wave of ice bucket challenges caught up with the Stetson head coach on Friday an he took advantage of the opportunity to challenge a friend in the coaching community.

Student assistant coach Mitch VanSumeren was responsible for calling Hughes out in the video challenge that has swept across the nation in an effort to raise money and awareness in the fight to find a cure for ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig Disease.

“I thought it would be fun to get the entire team involved,” Hughes said of his video, which went up on YouTube on Friday. “I wanted to be able to show that, as coaches, we have fun too and are not just ogres screaming at you all the time.”

In answering the challenge put forth by VanSumeren, Hughes challenged his friend, Lance Leipold, and the entire team at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Leipold’s program has won five of the last six NCAA Division III National Championships.

“Lance came to visit our team in the spring, watched practice and evaluated us and talked to the team,” Hughes said. “They reported to camp yesterday and our team called out their team.

“He tried to say that he got his ice bath at the national championship game and sent me a picture. I showed that to our team and they said that didn’t work. I think that he and both of his coordinators are going to do it in the next couple of days.”

Even though it was fun for him and his team to get involved, Hughes said people should remember the goal.

“The ultimate thing about this is to bring awareness to a great cause, but if we can also use it to bring our team together, then we wanted to do that as well.”

Find more Hatters sports coverage at GoHatters.com.