Friday night brought the Bulldogs first action of fall camp under the lights of Bulldog Stadium. The 'Dogs first open scrimmage gave the coaching staff a chance to see what the team looked like in a game situation complete with crowd, lights, and noise.
Coach Tim DeRuyter was pleased with the effort his team gave. The coaching staff hopes to build off of the successes they saw on the field Friday night and correct a few of their errors.
"I thought both sides of the ball made some plays," DeRuyter said. "That's what you expect in a scrimmage. I think our defense did a good job early stopping the run; they got our offense in some second and longs. It's tough to convert when you're in a third and twelve situation and they bring pressure, but our offense made some plays, we made some guys miss and ran through some tackles. We need to clean that up defensively, but it was good to see Jordan Brown run hard and TJ [Thomas] run hard. I think Jerin McClendon made some good catches, he's a big target so its good to see him emerge, and I was impressed with our kickers, we missed one we should have hit but we have a lot of confidence in our kicking game right now."
The 'Dogs played in the scrimmage the way they expect to play in the season. They lulled the defense asleep and thrived off of the long ball. They completed a number of deep balls for touchdowns to numerous receivers.
"We know we can stretch the field vertically," DeRuyter said. "It's great to have both Harp [Josh Harper] and Davante [Adams] out there because you can't double both sides. To have both those guys be able to go up and make plays on the ball we'll be able to put pressure on teams and having 4 back there to throw it, I don't know how far that ball he threw to Davante went in the air, but that was impressive. We just have to keep those guys healthy."
The running game looked to be in midseason form today, although the production came from guys you wouldn't likely expect it was encouraging to see that the running backs could create and get through the holes the offensive line made for them.
"I don't know if the running back situation cleared up," DeRuyter said. "If anything I think it showed that we have a lot of guys that are capable we've got some big physical backs, I think whoever can understand our schemes and protect Derek [Carr] as well as making people miss, and running hard is going to get the nod."
The backup quarterback position battle was all but wrapped up going into the scrimmage, but Brian Burrell stood out yet again and cemented his case for the job.
"I think every time we've come out Brian's gotten a little better and a little more comfortable," DeRuyter said. "He still has some things he needs to work through, but in two more weeks I think he'll be ready to be a serviceable number two."
The scrimmage wasn't totally dominated by the offense. The defense stood up and shut down the offense early on in the evening and sacked the quarterback a few times. Later in the scrimmage the defense made a couple of red zone stands and looked "fast and fanatical."
"I think Nick [Toth] and our defensive staff do a great job of teaching the scheme," DeRuyter said. "Everybody naturally gets better in the second year, I think having Charles [Washington] and Derron [Smith] really helps, they have really good speed, and can do a great job of disguising and still getting where they need to get. We can put a lot of challenges on a quarterback to try to figure out what we're doing."
The coaching staff loved to see the 'Dogs compete and neither the offense nor the defense backed down an inch. However, tempers flared early on in the scrimmage and another altercation broke out between wide receiver Davante Adams and linebacker Ejiro Ederaine.
"We addressed that with the team," DeRuyter said. "You like guys being aggressive, but you can't be stupid, you cant let your emotions get the best of you. The officials told me both those guys would have been thrown out, and if Davante [Adams] is going to be the kind of player we think he's going to be to get thrown out on the second play would be stupid. Same goes for Ejiro [Ederaine], he's been having a great camp and you just can't get thrown out on the second play. As you get deeper into camp guys get a little edgy towards each other and you want that a little bit, but you have to be able to control it."
All in all the DeRuyter was pleased with what he saw in the scrimmage and is happy with the newly found trust he has developed with the second and third strings.
"In general we saw what we wanted to see from the two's and three's they had a few break downs, but I think having our guys out here where they are put in pressure situations where they have to make plays it shows who they are and I liked what we saw. I think we executed with our 2's and 3's at a much better clip, and if we continue at this pace I think we'll be very confident with our depth."
The 'Dogs played fast and, aside from shaking off a little rust at the start, looked sharp and focused. The defense dominated in the early goings. When the offense got in rhythm we saw glimpses of the high-flying team the Bulldogs fielded in 2012.
The backups were also very impressive. The coaching staff was happy with how the reserves performed and the 'Dogs look to capitalize off their expanded depth.
The Bulldogs have two weeks to prepare for Rutgers, and one more scrimmage to sharpen up their tools before stepping into Bulldogs Stadium for the real deal on August 29.
Statistics and Top Performers
Derek Carr finished the game 5-10 passing for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Brian Burrell finished 6-9 for 47 yards and a touchdown. Myles Carr went 2-8 for 45 yards and a touchdown
Statistics wise T.J. Thomas would probably be named player of the game. He finished with 30 yards rushing and a touchdown on 7 carries, and 29 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns on 4 catches.
Marteze Waller finished with 21 rushing yards on 5 carries and 10 receiving yards on 2 catches.
Jerin McClendon had 2 catches for 45 yards.
Josh Harper and Davante Adams each had a long touchdown catch. Harper's was for 25 yards and Adams' for 65 yards.
Newcomers, freshman Da'mari Scott and JC transfer Devonn Brown were impressive. Scott finished with 40 yards on 2 catches, and Brown had 20 yards on 2 short screen passes.
The surprise of the day would have to be fullback Jordan Brown. Brown finished with 50 rushing yards on 7 carries, with about 40 of those yards being after contact.
Defensively the 'Dogs didn't force any turnovers, however a few guys stood out.
Jamal Ellis did an outstanding job on Harper and Adams, he got beat on Harper's touchdown but came back and had a couple breakups and tackles.
Freshman linebacker Robert Stanley was flying around the field and making tackles at every level.
Claudell Louis and Ben Letcher both made some big tackles for loss.
Derron Smith and Kyrie Wilson looked dominate and made some big hits on ball carriers.
Steven Morehart is a new staff writer for FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @StevenMorehart.