Tiger Offense Makes Progress In Second Major Scrimmage
Aug. 20, 2011
MEMPHIS, TENN. - Photo Gallery from today's scrimmage
The Tigers made the short trip to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium for their second major scrimmage of training camp. Coach Porter took his squad through about a 120-play workout, which also included a short lightning delay near the end.
The scrimmage was very run-heavy today as Porter tested his young backs Artaves Gibson and Joe Price. Porter had said earlier in the week that those two guys had been making a case for early playing time, and today proved that once again.
"I am excited about this scrimmage," said Porter. "I thought offensively, as opposed to last week, the offense ruled the day. There were a lot of young guys who stood out. Our two young backs, Artaves Gibson and Joe Price had an outstanding day. They showed discipline, toughness and productivity."
Gibson, a true freshman out of Mitchell High in Memphis, rushed 18 times for 109 yards and a touchdown. His score came off a four-yard run on the 99th play with true freshman quarterback Taylor Reed in. On that drive from the 20, all of the yardage was on the ground with runs by Price, Reed and Gibson. Gibson had a couple of power runs, racking up gains of 22, 18 and 15 yards. Price, out of Madison Central High in Madison, Miss., toted the ball 16 times for 65 yards, and posted a long run of 13 yards.
Billy Foster, who will certainly factor into the run game this year, rushed eight times for 16 yards in the early part of the scrimmage before he was held out the rest of the way. The Tigers were without the services of Jerrell Rhodes, but Porter said he expected him back on Monday. Blake Veasley (Cherry Valley, AR), a freshman who joined the Tigers in camp, had six carries for 21 yards, including a one-yard score late in the scrimmage.
Quarterbacks Reed and Skylar Jones gained some ground yardage today too and showed that they both can be dual threats for the Tigers. Reed rolled off 35 yards on six runs, while Jones posted 52 yards on eight carries. He had a pair of 23-yard runs today. Reed threw for over 100 yards with eight completions, while Jones logged about 86 yards on nine completions.
The three quarterbacks combined only had 43 attempted passes in the triple-digit scrimmage. Andy Summerlin, who Porter continues to say has the edge over Reed and Jones, threw for 149 yards and three touchdowns with seven completions. He was picked off once by Mitch Huelsing. He had touchdown passes of eight, three and 14 yards, and a 50 yarder to Cam Baker. Baker also had a 49-yard run thanks to a nice block by Marcus Rucker.
"I have been telling you all week that Taylor Reed and Skylar Jones, for that matter, wouldn't give in and they didn't today," said Porter. "They were more productive than Andy was today. There were a lot of positives and a lot of things to build on."
When asked about whether he was settled in on who the quarterback would be for the season opener against Mississippi State, Porter said that Andy has been productive enough in camp right now to warrant him being number one on the depth chart, but ... "We will not neglect or overlook what we are seeing in terms of the progress of Taylor and Skylar. We are going to continue to allow them to fight to be a starter within our offense this year."
Several receivers made plays today, including Tannar Rehrer and Reggie Travis, who both scored. Rehrer logged 81 yards on six catches and an eight-yard touchdown, while Travis tallied 45 yards on three receptions and a 14-yard TD. True freshman Tyriq Patrick is also making an early case for playing time, as he picked up 46 yards on five catches. The other touchdown from Summerlin was a three-yard pass to recently-converted fullback Ricky Holloway. Holloway moved to the offense during training camp after playing linebacker the last two years.
The defense only logged the one turnover by Huelsing, but did have a couple of TFLs today. Terrence Thomas was in on a few big plays as was Zach Gholson. Gholson logged a sack on the second play of the scrimmage, and Cannon Smith made a nice play to keep Reed out of the endzone. Other defenders with TFLs were Akeem Davis and Derek Smith, and Dontari Poe posted a sack. Bakari Hollier and Kanyata Johnson also had pass breakups.
The Tigers will not practice on Sunday and will have three more practices before the official close of training camp on Wednesday afternoon. At that point, the squad will be one week away from the nationally-televised season opener against the Bulldogs on Thursday, Sept. 1. Tickets are still available by calling the ticket office at 901-678-2331 or by going online to www.GoTigersGo.com and clicking on the "Purchase Tickets" graphic. The first 10,000 fans will receive pom pons, posters and schedule cards. There will also be a post-game fireworks show that night. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.