Defense prevails in Blue-White Spring Game

White picks up 40-17 victory over Blue

April 14, 2012 · Athletic Communications
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – White avenged its only loss under head coach Rick Stockstill from a year ago with a strong performance Saturday afternoon to defeat Blue, 40-17, under non-traditional scoring rules during the annual Spring game at Floyd Stadium in front of 4,214 fans.

In a contest pitting offense versus defense the entire game, White was awarded seven points per quarter and four for each turnover it created. It grabbed two interceptions for eight points and caused a fumble near the goal line to raise its total to 40.

Meanwhile, the Blue offense found the offense only twice and tacked on a field goal to provide its 17 points.

It did not take long, however, for the Blue to get its first points on the scoreboard as it found pay dirt on the opening possession. It marched 65 yards on just 12 plays, including five Benny Cunningham carries for 17 yards. Logan Kilgore also opened with a sharp effort, completing his first four passing attempts for 47 yards, including an eight-yard strike to Kyle Griswould. The redshirt junior signal caller also located Tavarres Jefferson during the drive for a 20-yard gain.

Blue would quickly add more points in its column on the next possession behind second-string Shaun White. White hit Arthur Williams for a 47-yarder, advancing the ball to inside the 10 at the seven. However, the defensive unit then stepped up and allowed only three more yards before Carlos Lopez kicked a 21-yard field goal to give Blue 10 points.

From then on, however, the White team, allowed just one more scoring play, in the third quarter, as it stepped up its efforts on the defensive side. Following a scoreless second frame for Blue, it was able to punch the ball across late in the quarter.

Shaun White again directed the scoring drive, this time a six-play, 31-yard possession, in which the highlight was a 27-yard completion to Harold Turner Jr. to the 2-yard line. A pair of Kennedy McGruder one-yard dashes later, the redshirt senior fullback placed the ball over the plane for the game’s final touchdown.

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Overall, the Blue offense gained 484 yards on 104 plays, including 373 through the air. Kilgore connected on 15-of-26 for 216 yards and a touchdown, while White added 14-of-28 for 140 yards. Both players through interceptions.

Khari Burke stepped in front of Kilgore’s pass at the White 36-yard line and sprinted down the sideline for a 33-yard return during third quarter action. Meanwhile, John Kelly grabbed a Shaun White pass and was immediately tackled while standing at the White 25-yard line.

Anthony Amos and Turner Jr. paced the receiving corps with five catches apiece with Amos holding the slight edge on yardage, 81-to-69. Fourteen different players tallied at least one reception with nine hauling in more than one pass.

Drayton Calhoun topped the rushers with 39 yards on six touches, while Cunningham finished with 27 yards on eight carries.

The forced fumble came via Roderic Blunt on a Calhoun carry near the goal line. Blunt’s forced turnover was recovered in the end zone by Jajuan Harley for a touchback.

Blunt and Leighton Gasque set the tone on the defensive side of the ball with seven tackles apiece. Dearco Nolan contributed two sacks, while Gasque, Jerrold Frazier and Shubert Bastien each had one apiece.

The White defense had eight pass breakups, by eight different players, and Bastien and O’Shae Bridges were credited with quarterback hurries.

2012 Spring Practice Awards
Most Improved Quarterback: Shaun White
Most Improved Running Back: Drayton Calhoun
Most Improved Wide Receiver: Reggie Whatley
Most Improved Offensive Lineman: Micah James
Most Improved Defensive Lineman: Alexandro Antoine
Most Improved Linebacker: Roderic Blunt
Most Improved Safety: Kevin Byard
Most Improved Corner: Kenneth Gilstrap

Most Improved Strength Training Quarterback: Jeff Murphy
Most Improved Strength Training Running Back: Benny Cunningham
Most Improved Strength Training Wide Receiver: Kyle Griswould
Most Improved Strength Training Offensive Lineman: Josh Walker
Most Improved Strength Training Defensive Lineman: Omar McLendon
Most Improved Strength Training Linebacker: Christian Henry
Most Improved Strength Training Safety: JaJuan Harley
Most Improved Strength Training Corner: Chris Sharpe
Most Improved Strength Training Specialist: Josh Davis

Jeanne Massaquoi Freshman Academic Award: Shaun White
Donald Craig Sophomore Academic Award: Reggie Whatley
Dr. James E. Walker Junior Academic Award: Kenneth Gilstrap
Dr. Sidney McPhee Senior Academic Award: Jeff Murphy

(Excellence in academics, football, strength training, community service, and campus activities)

Who won was not the objective. I wanted to see us come out and play hard and improve in some areas we need to improve on.
The fumble that Drayton (Calhoun) had down there at the goal line was disappointing. Logan’s interception was a miscommunication. He read the defense one way and his receiver read the coverage a different way and ran his route differently. Those things are going to happen during the course of the game but the disappointing thing was the fumble.

We executed some things and some things we didn’t. Today was really just the culmination of spring practice. For a spring game, it went pretty well. Obviously, you want everybody to stay healthy and put on a show for the fans.

The whole defense went out there with enthusiasm today. The offense came out with a bang, but we recovered. Leadership from Dearco (Nolan), Omar (McClendon) and the veterans on the team boosted us up and we came out and competed after that.

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