Defense sets the tone early in third scrimmage

Aug. 18, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Heading into the third scrimmage of fall camp, JU head coach Kerwin Bell knew it would be hard to give a full assessment of his team's play with nagging injuries piling up, especially on the offensive line. Despite the adjustments, the coaching staff came off the field happy by the efforts of the squad.

Early on, the defense came prepared to play as the unit stifled the offense in six consecutive drives. With constant pressure on the quarterbacks and a swarming presence at the point of attack, the defense pitched a shutout while recording three sacks, two quarterback hurries, a pass deflection, a tackle for loss and an interception.

"Our defense really came out and set the tone this morning," Bell said. "It was great to see because I expect our defense to play aggressive and fly around the ball."

Sophomore defensive end Austin Knipp stood out throughout the session with two tackles, a quarterback pressure and two sacks. Freshman defensive lineman Raymond Gault also added a pressure and two sacks while senior defensive tackle Kiel Pierce and sophomore end Aaron Frye also tallied a sack. Senior end Mirco Zanella mixed in a nice tackle behind the line of scrimmage, sophomore linebacker Allen Fennell, freshman Jacob Casey and freshman linebacker A.J. Land each broke up a pass and senior linebacker Joey Rumph recorded the lone interception of the contest.

"The defense has progressed a lot from the first scrimmage," said Bell. "The line did a great job of putting pressure in the backfield and our secondary came up and made plays. I also like the level that Bryan Flowers and Robson Noel are playing at right now at corner."

The offense finally got on the board in the seventh drive under the helm of redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Solak. After starting the drive with a 20-yard strike to junior receiver Geavon Tribble, junior running back Cecil Coltrane scampered for 11 yards before Solak connected with Tribble again, this time for 30 yards. On third and goal, Solak found senior receiver Michael Jenner from nine-yards out.

The defense put a stop to the celebrating by shutting down the next drive in their territory but the offense struck again behind the play of freshman quarterback Spencer Hendsley. In a long sustained drive, which endured two sacks by the defense, Hendsley completed all four of his passes for 53 yards (including a 24 yard strike to Tribble inside the five). Coltrane also rushed for 29 yards and capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run.

The offense continued its strong rebound by scoring a touchdown in the next three drives. Freshman quarterback Jeremy Thornton combined for 8-of-10 passing for 129 yards and two touchdown passes in two sessions. The first touchdown, a 55 yard pass to Tribble, came off a missed assignment by the defense when the receivers went into a bunched crossing pattern just past the line of scrimmage. In his second drive, Thornton went 6-of-7 for 67 yards and capped the score with a 10-yard strike to freshman receiver Patrick Nelson.

"I thought the quarterbacks and receivers did a heck of a job today despite playing with a make shift line," Bell said. "The defense got us early but they answered back as the day went along."

Senior quarterback Chris Horton shook off his early rust to lead a scoring drive in his second round of action. After going 2-for-7 with an interception early on, Horton rebounded with a 5-of-6, 52 yard effort while connecting with Jenner for a 30-yard touchdown.

The defense ended the day on a strong note by shutting down the offense in the final two drives. Knipp tallied a sack after a first-down run by freshman Bradley Grant and Land broke up a pass to end the drive. In the final run, Hendsley drove the offense into enemy territory but his pass in the endzone for sophomore receiver Sam Bell was broken up by Casey.

Jenner led all receivers with two touchdowns while taking in four catches for 53 yards and Tribble logged 129 yards on four catches with a touchdown. Coltrane led the running game by finishing with 55 yards and a touchdown.