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Live look for Tiger football

8/18/2014

By AUSTIN COLBERT

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Two years ago, as a redshirt freshman from Ellis, Matt Erbert quickly proved to be one of the Fort Hays State University football team's best offensive linemen, starting all 11 games. Hopes were high for him again last year, until his season ended in August with a knee injury suffered early in the team's first fall scrimmage.

All of which made his healthy return to the field on Sunday in the Tigers' first fall scrimmage of 2014 at Lewis Field Stadium that much sweeter.

"It's been a long year but it felt so good to get out today and do some live stuff again," Erbert said. "It took some time to get over it. Once I did I kind of decided I can let this go one of two ways: it can either ruin my career or it can be a major step in my career. I think so far it's helped me to kind of grow up a lot as a player and as a person. I think it's going to make me a better player overall."

Sunday's scrimmage was the first live action for any of the Tigers this season, the culmination of their first week of fall camp. Two more scrimmages are scheduled, the first on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., the final on Aug. 27.

For the most part, vibes were positive following Sunday's first scrimmage. Rust was shown and mistakes were had, but the Tigers also made enough positive plays to make coach Chris Brown feel confident about where his team sits with less than three weeks until their season opener.

"You are going to do some good things; you are going to do some bad things. I thought we did some pretty good things today offensively and defensively," Brown said. "Our kids are only going to get better. We need to work on figuring out what we're good at, what we're not good at, and really focus on the things we are good at and really pursue that avenue instead of going a different way. But I thought overall, for our first scrimmage, I thought our kids performed pretty well."

The majority of the snaps were taken by either junior Treveon Albert, the team's returning starter at quarterback, or Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College transfer Kevin Spain. The two are locked in a battle to earn the starting spot this season and each made their share of mistakes on Sunday, but made up for them with outstanding scoring plays, such as Spain's 20-yard touchdown pass to redshirt-freshman wide receiver Tyler Bacon, or Albert's 27-yard TD pass to sophomore receiver Evan Jennings.

"There is always going to be a battle at that spot and that's the way you want it. I want it to be a tough decision for myself and the offensive coaches to figure out who is going to be our starting quarterback," Brown said.

"Who knows, maybe we play both of them and just do different things with each one of them? Maybe we can move Treveon around a little bit on the field somewhere else. It's going to be a tough decision for us because they are both pretty good quarterbacks."

While the offense stole the show most of the morning, the defense made its share of plays as well, getting a pair of interceptions. Turnovers were key for the team down the stretch last season when it won six of its final seven games, something this year's unit is well aware of.

"We were on that every day in practice. We challenge ourselves as a team goal to get two, three turnovers in practice every single day," said senior defensive back Nathan Lindsey. "I felt like the defense really showed a lot of tenacity trying to go get after it a little bit out there. We were feeling good. Our defense is feeling real confident this year. We just really wanted to express that in this scrimmage today and really show coach Brown that we are better than last year."

With classes getting underway today, the Tigers will move to only afternoon practices this week after a grueling stretch of two-a-days last week. Their regular-season opener is Thursday, Sept. 4, at home against the University of Central Oklahoma.