Offense settles score in second controlled scrimmage

April 9, 2004 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Quarterback Josh Harris, receiver Pedro Holiday and a much-improved offensive line highlighted Middle Tennessee's strong offensive play during today's 62-play scrimmage. The scrimmage ended the team's first two weeks of spring drills as they head home for the Easter weekend.

"It's been a good two weeks of work, but now we have to carry this over into the next week and work to finish this spring on a strong, positive note", McCollum said. "I saw some good things on both sides of the ball today. We need to get to a point where we are doing those things more consistently, however. And that's when we feel like we are coming together as a team and getting things in place."

Harris was the most efficient of all the signal-callers today by completing 10 of 12 passes for 112 yards to go along with a 9-yard touchdown run. Sophomore Clint Marks was 7-for-15 in the passing department for 98 yards, while Sam Hunt connected on 4 of 10 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Patrick Jackson was 1-of-1 for nine yards.

"Josh had a solid day throwing the football, but I thought all of our guys ran the offense well today," McCollum added. "It makes a big difference when your line is playing well."

Harris agreed the biggest difference in the play of the offense from last week's scrimmage to Friday morning's workout was the execution of an improving line.

"The offensive line got 100 percent better today, and I know they will continue to get better," Harris said. "They did a good job of protecting and giving all the quarterbacks time to throw and execute our schemes."

After taking nine possessions to score in last Saturday's first full controlled scrimmage, senior Holiday set the offensive tone early Friday when he beat the secondary and hauled in an 80-yard aerial from Hunt. The speedster finished with four receptions for 110 yards.

"I really hope we keep throwing the deep ball because if Kerry (Wright) and I stay healthy, people will have some problems," Holiday said. "We have to continue improving as a unit because there are still things we can do better, but we have a lot of receivers who can make plays and they have been in these scrimmages."

Ten different players recorded catches today, led by Chris Henry's six grabs for 75 yards. Walt Bell added three catches for 44 yards, while Wright reeled in two receptions for 68 yards. Luke Paschall added two catches and Jerrin Holt had a six-yard grab.

On the ground, Eugene Gross paced the Blue Raiders with 19 yards on four carries, while Terry Jackson added 17 yards on five attempts. Kelvin German rushed three times for 13 yards.

Defensively, the Blue Raiders recorded three sacks, three pass breakups, two additional tackles for loss and a blocked field goal. Jonathan Callahan, Sean Mosley, and Quinton Staton all registered quarterback sacks, while walk-on Ricky Dorcelus rejected a 40-yard field goal attempt by Colby Smith.

Senior Alvin Fite led the defense on Friday with seven tackles and a quarterback pressure and really stepped up with starters Dennis Burke and Jonathan Bonner sitting out due to injuries.

"Seems like we are in position a lot of times to make plays and then have breakdowns," Fite said. "That's an area where we must improve, but it is encouraging to see so many people in position to make plays. We were a little shorthanded at linebacker today because of some injuries, but that allowed a lot of younger players to get reps."

The Blue Raiders ended practice today with a 17-play goal line scrimmage that saw the offense score five times in 11 possessions. Gross added three scores and Jackson scored on a one-yard run, while Harris connected with Wright on a five-yard pass. Gross finished with nine total carries in the goal line scrimmage for 13 yards.

Defensively, Darren Mustin recorded a three-yard tackle for loss, while Jeff Littlejohn recovered a fumble.

The Blue Raiders will return to the practice field on Monday to begin their final week of spring drills.

Notes: Colby Smith connected on a 45-yard field goal ... Don Lucas, head of officials for the Sun Belt Conference, was on hand today in order to evaluate the officials working the scrimmage ... Danny Tolbert had an interception when Walt Bell mishandled a bad snap on an extra point attempt then attempted to throw the ball toward the endzone ... In order to develop more chemistry with the offensive line, coach Scott Fountain stuck with the same five over the course of several consecutive positions before rotating the group.

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