Tigers scrimmage one last time
By CONOR NICHOLL
Last week, the Fort Hays State University football team put in a lot of new plays. Throughout the week, third-year coach Chris Brown said the players' "minds were spinning."
"They weren't focusing and they were playing kind of slow and their timing was off a little bit," Brown said.
On Wednesday, FHSU had its third and final preseason scrimmage at Lewis Field Stadium. The Tigers had a crisp session that featured some big plays on both sides of the ball. Fort Hays will open the season next Thursday night at home against Emporia State University, a point that Brown made after the scrimmage to his team.
"Camp's over and now we are onto Emporia," Brown said. "We have got about five or six practices before Emporia. We have got to lock in here."
Junior tight end Zack Gaughan caught a seven-yard touchdown pass, senior Marshall Musil collected a TD pass, redshirt freshman Evan Jennings had several nice catches, true freshman wideout Isaiah Maxi delivered a couple of plays, and senior Andre Smith broke a 15-yard scoring run. Once, Jennings, from Tampa, Fla., caught the ball on the sideline and broke a 1-on-1 tackle for a big gain. Brown walked over and told him, "Evan, great job." Jennings has run 10.6 seconds in the 100-meter dash and ran the hurdles well for the Tiger track team last season.
"Evan, I was kind of concerned about earlier in the year, but he has really matured in camp and made himself a better ballplayer and more competitive this last week than he has all camp," Brown said. "He went up and got a couple of balls today, made a few catches, broke a tackle and went for another 10 yards. He needs to continue to do that, and Maxi, for a freshman, and Bilal Salat for a freshman as well, those two are just tremendous players, tremendous athletes and they are very, very competitive, and they want to win. It's good to see young kids like that on the field."
At the end of practice, senior wideout Keaton Callins, the team's emergency quarterback, stepped in with the No. 3 unit and brought a few smiles when he led some nice drives.
"We just kind of cut back and did the things that we were good at," Brown said. "I think that really helped Treveon (Albert) out at the quarterback position. (Edin) Kovac as well. He really stepped in there and did a good job today."
The offensive line, down to one returning starter after sophomore Matt Erbert suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier in camp, has started to come together. Senior Greg List has emerged as a leader at center and sophomore Jarred Stindt, the lone starter back, has switched from center to guard.
"With Erb going down, he was a big part of our o-line with another returning starter," Stindt said. "I think what we have now, we have got a good core, a good team. We have got players that have got a lot of time at the juco level."
Defensively, safety Michael Jordan picked off a pass that bounced off three other Tigers. Redshirt freshman bandit backer Alex Schmidtberger and Zach Nash each knocked down passes near the end zone. Similar to the rest of the camp, FHSU's defense got its hands on several passes. The defensive line often raised their hands on passes and made windows tighter. Redshirt freshman Noah Debban (6-foot-6, 235) and junior Joita Te'i (6-4, 275) have played well up front.
"Guys blitzing off the edge," Brown said. "They are timing it. They are not getting to the quarterback. They are getting their hands up and making great timing and knocking the balls down."