Reviews mixed for Hornet scrimmage
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By ROB PATRICK
Bryant Hornets head football coach Daryl Patton summed up his team’s performance in their 2000 Prep Bowl scrimmage Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium in succinct (and cinematic) terms. “Good, bad and ugly,” he declared.
The Hornets worked out against the Morrilton Devil Dogs for most of the 45 minutes they were allotted. (The fact that the clock rolled through without interruption even for penalties and discussions between officials cut down on the actual scrimmage time.) The scrimmage finished up preseason work for both teams. Monday, Bryant began preparations for its opener at Sylvan Hills on Friday, Sept. 1, and Morrilton started getting ready for its lid-lifter at Russellville.
“I thought (senior quarterback) Jeramie (Wooten) throwing the ball,” Patton explained. “He was pretty accurate, did a good job of selling the screen. We wanted him to complete at least 60 percent of his passes and he did that.”
Indeed, Wooten, the senior who has been an understudy for two years and is now getting his chance to start, appeared to answer any questions that fans may have had about the quarterback spot this season. He finished 11-of-14 through the air for 165 yards with one interception and a touchdown. In fact, Wooten completed nine of his first 10 passes. The only miss was actually a catch — by the other team.
That interception came on Bryant’s fourth offensive play of the scrimmage after a completion from Wooten to Josh Farmer had picked up 11 yards and a 14-yard run by fullback Luke Brown reached Morrilton territory.
“Our receivers caught the ball well,” Patton noted. “We didn’t drop any passes that I remember.
“We didn’t do a real good job of running the ball but the way they were playing their defense with basically six in the box, they were saying ‘Throw the football,’ and that’s what we had to do.”
And Wooten was never sacked. He turned a rollout into a run once.
“The line did a good job pass protecting,” Patton concurred.
Defensively, too, the Hornets were good, for the most part. They allowed just 55 yards of offense on 24 plays, just two first downs — although, a play that would’ve produced a 70-yard touchdown run for Morrilton’s quarterback Keith Stobaugh was called back because the officials had been so fooled (like the Hornets) by Stobaugh’s dive fake to the running back, they had blown the play dead when the back was brought down at the line of scrimmage. Stobaugh, who had kept on an option left, went untouched with the well-hidden pigskin.
Defensive coordinator Steve Griffith had wanted to see his lighter, but quicker defenders against a power game like Morrilton’s and, at first glance, was pleased with the results against the Devil Dogs’ wishbone.
“Other than that one mental mistake but after that I felt pretty good about what we did,” Griffith said. “We had guys flying to the football, we tackled fairly well and I’m pretty pleased at this point. We’ll look at the film, break it down and look at individual guys and see if it looks like on film what our impression was out here.”
“I thought we swarmed to the football, we showed some speed and I thought we hit pretty well,” Patton said of the defense. “I thought we were a little high (against the power running). We had a blown assignment and the quarterback would’ve scored. We cannot have that. We’re not good enough to go out there and miss assignments and beat good football teams. You’ve got to execute and play smart.”
Senior linebacker Phillip Primm, lineman Matt Lewis and junior defensive back Alex Pudinas were among those that turned in defensive work of note. Luke Brown almost intercepted a pass.
“When we got into the red zone (inside the 20), we’ve got to put the ball into the end zone,” Patton said of the offense. “We cannot have any turnovers or mistakes.”
The Hornets, after taking a 6-0 lead on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Wooten to Jonathan Jameson, on their next possession, drove to the Morrilton 5. Wooten completed consecutive passes to Matt White, Jameson and B.J. Wood to reach the 8 then Jameson, a strong runner, switched to quarterback. On third and goal at the 4, Jameson tried a keeper and had the ball knocked out of his arms from behind. Morrilton recovered, turning back the Bryant threat.
“I did change quarterbacks at that time,” Patton allowed, “Jonathan’s a little better runner and I wanted to get him in there and get him some confidence on the belly series. He did a good job. He made a good read when he cut it up. He just got hit from behind. He’s just got to do a better job of protecting the ball.”
“The play where their quarterback would’ve scored was ugly,” Patton said. “And we missed an extra point. I’ll have to watch the tape to see what it was but we can’t miss extra points. That’ll kill you.
“We had some penalties late,” he noted.
Near the end of the scrimmage, Bryant was driving again. Wooten had completed a 14 yard pass then a 9 yard completion to Matt Brown to get into Morrilton territory. A screen to White broke for 18 but there was a tangle of players at the end of the play that resulted in off-setting personal foul penalties and ejections for the two players involved, one from each team.
“We can’t have that,” Patton said. “We’ve got to do a good job of controlling out emotions. We had a young man — and he will be eligible for the next game — he’s a good kid who plays with a great deal of emotion, wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s got to do a better job of controlling himself and just walk away from that.
“But that’s why we do these things. He’s going to learn. He feels bad, terrible about it, but we can’t have that on Friday nights.”