The Stetson Hatters saw their sixth scrimmage of the fall come to an early end on Saturday afternoon when a thunderstorm rolled over the Stetson Athletics Training Center.
The Hatters were able to complete 58 plays of what was expected to be a 120-play afternoon.
“I would have loved to have gotten another 50 or so snaps in,” Hatters coach Roger Hughes said. “We were just about to halftime. I wanted to get some work in the two minute offense and some of the other things that we didn’t get a chance to do in special situations.”
What he did see was the offensive unit take a step forward after being overshadowed by the defense in all of the other scrimmages, especially the one last week.
“We really cut back on what we were doing (on offense) and worked to prepare this week as if we were preparing for a game,” Hughes said. “We practiced everything we did in the scrimmage and I think that really showed. The guys have pride, and they knew the defense kicked our tails last week and they went out there today with something to prove.”
Overall, there were 11 offensive possessions in the scrimmage. Five of those ended in points (four touchdowns and a field goal) and four ended in punts. The other two possessions ended in a blocked field goal and an interception.
The first offense got things started with a six-play, 67-yard touchdown drive behind quarterback Ryan Tentler (Chicago, Ill.), who took care of the final 36 yards on his own by keeping the ball on the option around the end. That long run was bested by Nick LaSala (Boca Raton, Fla.) later in the scrimmage when he pulled the same trick, taking a QB keeper 50 yards for a score.
“Nick LaSala runs the ball very well,” Hughes said. “He just has to get a little more comfortable in the pocket. Ryan Tentler has great command of the offense. He gets us in the right plays and gets everyone lined up. He is further ahead in the mechanics of the offense just because he knows everything.”
Tentler completed three of his five pass attempts for 20 yards while LaSala was six-of-nine for 62 yards, with one interception, which was recorded on a deflection by Glenn Adesoji (Memphis, Tenn.).
The only touchdown passes in the scrimmage were completed by Jonathan Jerozal (Canyon County, Calif.) on a short pass to Keegan Tanner (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) who battled 15 yards for the score, and an 82-yard pass and run from Ian Leggett (Davie, Fla.) to running back Meyrick Lamb (Marion Heights, Pa.) on what turned out to be the final play of the scrimmage.
“John Jerizol has probably showed as much improvement as anyone this week,” Hughes said. “He didn’t run the option in high school, but he is starting to get comfortable with it. Overall, we are getting better.”
On the defensive side of the ball, some of the same players who have made plays in earlier scrimmages continued to shine. That includes linebacker Julius Holder (Austell, Ga.), who had a pair of tackles for loss and a sack.
“Julius has a knack when he is on the move of making plays,” Hughes said.
Two other players who stood out on defense were defensive backs – safety Donald Payne (Fayetteville, Ga.) and corner back Chris Atkins (Jacksonville, Fla.). Payne had three and a half tackles, including a pair of tackles for loss and half a sack he shared with Ryan Powers (Jupiter, Fla.). Atkins had four tackles and a pass breakup.
“Payne is really physical,” Hughes said. “He has been our most dynamic player from the start, but now he is starting to settle in where he is not wildcatting all the time. He is starting to understand the defense and where he is supposed to be.
“The thing I like about Chris Atkins is that he plays with a lot of confidence, and that is one of those things that both corners and quarterbacks have to have. Out there you can get hung out to dry, but he believes that he can’t be beaten.”
The Hatters played the scrimmage with officials for a second straight week, but saw just four penalties that were marked off.
“Overall, it has been great having the officials out here because, number one, our coaches can coach instead of officiating,” Hughes said. “Two, it gives the kids more of a game feel, and that is something that we have just not been able to do. We want to make these scrimmages as much of a game experience as we can.
“There were a couple of penalties that were called that were great, teachable things. We are going to do that again for the next two scrimmages, including homecoming, to give the kids a feel for what games days are all about.”
Those next two scrimmages are scheduled for October 20 and November 3. Both are scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
In between the scrimmages, Hughes will be taking part in two more alumni tailgates, both in the state of Florida. Next Saturday he will be in Tallahassee for the Florida State game against Boston College. On Oct. 27, the Stetson coach will be in Jacksonville for the Florida-Georgia game.
“I am hoping that these next two, both in Tallahassee and in Jacksonville, will be the biggest tailgates we have had,” Hughes said. “The indication is that a lot of people are excited about them. I am excited because I am going to get to see good football, but also I want the alums to get excited when they see how exciting this can be. Hopefully they will both build momentum toward our homecoming here.”
Tickets for the 2013 season will go on sale on Monday, October 8, and will be available first based on levels of past donations. Fans who made previous deposits for tickets will be able to begin choosing their seats on Oct. 19. Sales will open to the general public on Nov. 3 at the Green-White Scrimmage.