The fledgling Stetson football program cross another hurdle on Thursday afternoon at the new Athletic Training Facility when the team held its first live scrimmage.
The Hatters went through about 45 minutes of pre-scrimmage work before embarking on a scheduled 70-play scrimmage in front of a crowd of almost 200 excited Stetson fans under a broiling hot central Florida sun.
“I think we came out of this injury free, which is the first thing you want,” Hatters head coach Roger Hughes said. “We obviously have a long way to go but, for the first week, it was not bad. I think the effort is there. Clearly these kids are into football, but they are having to learn everything from scratch.”
The Hatters stuck to basics in their first scrimmage, with the defense not allowed to use any blitzes or stunts in order to allow the offensive coaches a chance to evaluate the 10 quarterbacks currently on the roster.
“The thing for us as coaches, and we have told the kids this, is that we are not in a rush to judgement,” Hughes said. “We have plenty of time to give everyone work, and there is no order. Everyone is getting an equal chance. It is just tough when you have so many at one position.”
The QB rotation started on Wednesday with David Smith (Columbus, Ohio) and ended with Ryan Tentler (Chicago, Ill.). Smith and Nick LaSala (Boca Raton) put up the best passing numbers, as all 10 players got 7-8 snaps in the scrimmage.
Smith completed all four of his pass attempts, throwing for 64 yards and capping his time with a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Eric Fitzgerald (Coral Springs, Fla.). Tentler was also perfect, hitting on all three of his throws for 105 yards, including a 60-yard scoring strike to Darius McGriff (Jacksonville, Fla.).
There were a total of five touchdowns in the scrimmage. The others came on runs of one yard from David Lamb (Marion Heights, Pa.), eight yards from Jason Willix (Concord, NC) and 22 yards from quarterback Jonathan Strahl (Port Orange, Fla.). Lamb was the leading rusher with 38 yards on five carries and Lopton Pierre-Jacques (Winder Haven) added 17 yards on seven carries.
Overall, 18 players had rushing attempts on the afternoon for a total of 66 yards. A total of 10 players had receptions in the scrimmage, totaling 227 yards.
“There's flashes of brilliance, but we've got to be more consistent,” Hughes said. “The offensive surprisingly looked good just a little more than a week into camp. Since I'm calling the offensive plays, that makes me feel good, but we limited what the defense could do purposely because our offensive line isn't ready to see the stunts that we're doing.”
On the defensive side, a total of 28 players recorded at least one tackle, and none had more than three. Five were credited with sacks, while there were also two forced fumbles and one interception, which was recorded by Kenny Massa (New Egypt, NJ).
Because of the extreme heat on the practice field, the scrimmage did not go quite as long as the coaches had hoped for.
“We actually wanted to go about 20 more snaps, but we're not actually in college football shape yet,” Hughes said. “(The heat) certainly put them through adversity. In the long run, it's going to give them a good sense of what fall camp is going to be like so that they'll come into camp in better shape next year."
The Hatters will enjoy a scheduled day of rest on Thursday before return to the practice fields on Friday for a pair of practice sessions, one at 8:30 a.m. and the second at 7:30 p.m.