In the Georgia Southern Eagles’ second scrimmage of the spring football season, offense was a little hard to come by.
Stout defense — but also offensive miscues — highlighted a scrimmage of about 90 plays Saturday morning at Paulson Stadium that left much of the coaching staff wanting more from their team.
“I just didn’t see the effort that I was hoping for,” GSU coach Jeff Monken said. “It’s a little bit disappointing. I thought that we had a lot of intensity and effort at practice yesterday, but I don’t think we had that same effort today.”
While big plays combined with constant turnovers in the first scrimmage last week, Saturday’s action saw a much more conservative struggle between offense and defense. There was only one bad snap and one other ball put on the ground Saturday, but the Eagles’ first and second string offenses managed just two touchdowns on the day.
One big step forward on the day was the passing efficiency of the offense. Backups Vegas Harley and Kevin Ellison once again filled in for the injured Jerick McKinnon and Ezayi Youyoute, but where passes sailed wildly downfield in the first scrimmage, Saturday’s action saw plenty of improvement.
Harley connected on 6-of-7 throws for 54 yards while Ellison hit on 2-of-3 including a 30-yard touchdown strike to Kentrellis Showers on a 3rd-and-10 play early in the scrimmage.
“The more time we get, the more comfortable we feel,” Harley said. “As the spring goes on, we’re settling in. The timing gets better and you’re more confident every time you drop back to throw.”
The barometer for each play on Saturday sat at the line of scrimmage. Both the offensive and defensive lines have been thinned out due to injuries during the spring.
On Saturday, an offensive front filled with starters from the 2012 squad had a few shining moments, but a defensive line held together with scout team members from last season also applied consistent pressure and disruption for the offense.
“It wasn’t a great day for the offense,” GSU offensive coordinator Brent Davis said. “We just missed too many signals from the sidelines and missed to many blocking assignments. Whether we’re in the huddle or going no-huddle, everyone is getting told exactly what to do on each play. We need to hear it and execute it.”
For a makeshift defensive line, reviews were a bit more positive.
“The main thing is that we were going hard on every play,” defensive line coach Victor Cabral said. “There were some missed assignments and missed tackles, but for playing a lot of guys who are young and inexperienced, I thought that we did a pretty good job.”
While the offensive and defensive units battled to a near stalemate, there were some standout performances. For the second consecutive game, linebacker Edwin Jackson starred in a few bone-crunching hits. On the other side of the ball, sophomore running back Brandan Thomas scrapped his way to 28 rushing yards and a 1-yard touchdown plunge late in the scrimmage.
Dominique Swope remained out of pads Saturday, as did a handful of other Eagles that are presumed to be starters in the regular season.
GSU will take to the practice fields throughout the week before concluding spring practice with the annual Blue-White game next Saturday at Paulson Stadium.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.