MARTIN, Tenn. – Defense was the prevailing theme this afternoon as the University of Tennessee at Martin football team held its spring game at Hardy Graham Stadium.
Today’s practice was the 12th of the spring for the Skyhawks and second of three scheduled scrimmages.
“Our defense played very well today,” UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson said. “I like our speed and athleticism on that side of the ball, especially with our front seven – we have a chance to be really good there. On the flipside, we have a lot of young receivers that still have a ways to go. Up to this point, we are where we need to be at every position except wide receiver – they have to pick it up and show improvements over these next three practices.”
Collectively, the vaunted Skyhawk defense tallied six pass breakups, five quarterback hurries, a pair of forced fumbles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and an interception. The defense conceded only 230 total yards on 60 plays, including 24 plays of two yards or less.
Marquis Clemons recorded a game-high seven tackles to go along with a forced fumble and quarterback hurry. Ariel Arguello had six tackles while Kahlid Hagens (interception) and Jordan Landry (three pass breakups) paced the UT Martin secondary.
The Skyhawk offense posted a pair of touchdowns and a field goal this morning. Quarterbacks Jarod Neal, Dylan Favre and Manny Stocker combined to go 11-for-35 for 163 yards and a pair of scoring strikes. Tyriq Patrick and Corey Jordan each hauled in a touchdown reception while Taylor Higgason (two catches for 48 yards) and Kyle Kerrick (three catches for 37 yards) were the two main targets today.
On the ground, eight Skyhawks combined for 67 yards on 25 carries. Abou Toure had the longest run of the day with a 35-yard carry while Reuben Duckworth and Ladevin Fair each had a team-high seven rushing attempts.
On special teams, Jackson Redditt split the uprights from 43 yards out and nailed both of his PAT attempts. James Satterfield opened the scrimmage with a pair of strong punts, the longest of which went for 47 yards.
The scrimmage began with 18 third-down situations from various distances. The UT Martin defense prevented a first down on 14 different occasions – setting the tone with five straight stops to begin the day.
The offense then had 12 possessions where they kept possession as long as they moved the chains. The offense would produce a pair of touchdowns and a field goal but could only muster nine first downs.
The offense received the ball at their own 1-yard line on the first four possessions. In three of those four possessions, the offense could not manage the ball past the eight-yard line – including back-to-back occasions where the defense broke through for safeties.
The offense then started at their own 30-yard line for five straight possessions. Hagens came away with his pick on the first play but the offense would recover with six first downs over the next three possessions. The third possession ended with the first score of the day for the offense, a 21-yard touchdown pass from Neal to Jordan. The defense would recover quickly, as the offense lost four total yards during another three-and-out.
The final three possessions began at the defense’s 25-yard line. Redditt drilled a 43-yard field goal to cap off the first possession while Patrick was the recipient of a nine-yard touchdown pass from Favre off a slant pattern on the next possession. The defense then ended the scrimmage on yet another high note, pushing the offense back five yards in another three-and-out.
The Skyhawks will hold three more practices this spring, concluding with the last scrimmage on Friday, April 18 at 9 a.m.