Another Saturday night brought another enthusiastic crowd to the Stetson University Athletics Training Center for a Hatters football scrimmage. While most were just enjoying the college football atmosphere, one group enjoyed the evening more than others.
A group of Stetson students on the Amelia Avenue side of the practice field chanted “Dee-fense! Dee-fense!”, and that group got to see plenty of strong play on that side of the ball.
Hatters head coach Roger Hughes, who oversees the offense and the quarterbacks, was not pleased with the way that group handled the pressure they faced.
“We took a step back offensively tonight,” Hughes said. “I am really upset with the quarterback play. We just didn’t respond at all and our offensive line didn’t play well.
“Defensively, they were throwing a lot at us. We tried to not limit the things they did and we clearly were not able to compete. The thing that disappointed me the most was that we didn’t get stronger as the night went along.”
With the exception of a 60-yard touchdown run by Jerami Singleton (Clermont, Fla.) in the final minutes of the two and a half hour session, the defense had their way all evening. Stetson’s 10 quarterbacks combined to complete just 24 of 52 pass attempts on the night for 191 yards.
Only Travis Palmer (East Grand Rapids, Mich.), who was 4-of-6 for 46 yards, was able to put the ball into the end zone, hitting DeLand’s own Taylor Dunn for a five-yard scoring strike.
“You don’t want to negate the big run Jerami Singleton had in the two minute work because there were some good things offensively,” Hughes said. “Defensively, they were really flying around and forced some turnovers, which is always good.”
The Hatters defense recorded a total of 24 tackles for loss, including 15 sacks. The secondary also recorded seven pass breakups and had two interceptions, one by Devon Garnett (Dunedin, Fla.) off Justin Slaven (Deltona, Fla.) that was returned for a touchdown and the other by Glenn Adesoji (Memphis, Tenn.) off Jonathan Jerozal (Canyon County, Cal.).
“The bad thing about an intra-squad scrimmage is that someone is always mad afterward,” Hughes said. “The good thing is that Stetson didn’t lose tonight. We clearly took a step forward defensively, which is gratifying to see.”
Individual standouts on the defensive side including Donald Payne (Fayetteville, Ga.), who had 10 tackles and Julius Holder (Austell, Ga.), who had five tackles, four for loss. Four other players – Dave Lazear (Newark, Del.), Joe Dolan (Lake Helen, Fla.), Davion Belk (Chicago, Ill.) and Matt Mines (Winter Park, Fla.) – were credited with two sacks each.
“I think our defensive line play is pretty good,” Hughes said. “I think we have three or four players there that I think will be really good. The nice thing was that the secondary played a little better. They still have to do a better job of tackling in the open field because we are still over-running tackles a little bit.”
While the passing game was thwarted by the defense, the Hatters were able to move the ball with some success on the ground. The running game produced 344 yards on 90 carries with three touchdowns. In addition to his 60-yard TD run late, Singleton also had a 17-yard scoring run and finished with 90 yards on just seven carries.
The other top runners were Meyrick Lamb (Marion Heights, Pa.) with 85 yards on 15 carries, Joe Sweeney (Delray Beach, Fla.) who had 95 yards on 14 carries, and Jason Willix (Concord, NC) who had 65 yards on 10 carries.
“Meyrick Lamb, Jason Willix and Joe Sweeney, along with Jerami Singleton, they are all getting better,” Hughes said. “There are a couple of guys who are playing the position for the first time, and each day they get a little better. We are getting better. We have to get more consistent play out of our fullback position and we have to get more consistent play from our offensive line.
“The really nice thing is that we have about 364 days before our first game, so we have some time to straighten some things out.”
The size, and enthusiasm, of the crowd gathered to watch the scrimmage continues to amaze the Hatters head coach.
“It is amazing and unexpected,” Hughes said. “I thought we might have some initial buzz but then things would start to die down, but it just seems to be growing. That is one of the things that attracted me to this place and one of the reasons why I thought this could be a football town.
“The town has been great. We have even had to put up a little crowd control to keep people from getting hurt. Our kids notice it and are really excited to come out here because they know the people here care. We even had the president of the university out here.”
The Hatters do not have another scrimmaged scheduled until October 1, which gives the players some time to recover physically, get off to a good start academically, and continue to improve through practice three days a week.
The time for Hughes and some of the other coaches will also be put to use recruiting, but the focus will not totally be on recruiting players.
“We will turn to the second group of people we are recruiting, and that is alumni,” Hughes said. “We are going to have an alumni tailgate at the Northwestern-Vanderbilt game next week in Illinois and at the USC-Stanford game the week after. We are trying to get people more excited about Stetson and Stetson football outside of the DeLand area.”