By NICK McQUEEN
The Fort Hays State University football team didn't quite go full tilt with its No. 1 and No. 2 offense and defense in its final scrimmage Wednesday at Lewis Field Stadium.
With the opener now one week away -- Sept. 4, 7 p.m. vs. Central Oklahoma -- Tiger fourth-year coach Chris Brown wasn't about to see any minor bumps or bruises turn into anything more serious.
That might have led to the Tiger offense seeming a bit more efficient against its defense than it had in the two scrimmages prior. Nevertheless, Brown saw good things out of both facets Wednesday, something he couldn't quite say in the prior two weeks, which were dominated by the defense.
"It went well," Brown said. "It was a light scrimmage with the 1s and 2s, just to try and stay injury free, and keep guys healthy. And get their feet back underneath them a little bit."
Incumbent quarterback Treveon Albert and newcomer Kevin Spain, who Brown said Wednesday are still in a battle for the starting spot, each led scoring drives against the No. 1 defense.
Albert led the No. 1 offense on its opening drive, capped with a 16-yard touchdown strike to Bilal Silat. Then, Spain, found Garrett Holle for an 11-yard TD with the No. 2s.
"Offense moved the ball well, and defense pursued to the ball well," Brown said. "You never know with some of those catches. Maybe some of those receivers start getting hit a little bit, maybe they don't make that catch."
The Tiger offense scored another touchdown when Spain found tight end Marshall Musil on a four-yard strike against the No. 1 defense. That came after Spain had an interception returned for a TD by junior Daniel Lindsey. Still Brown said the timing Wednesday was much better than it had been, starting with the snap.
"A lot of it is timing," he said. "A lot of our snaps were off, and when the snaps are off, the timing is off. We're back on time."
The Tigers have been using the 40-second clock to keep the pace moving.
"That's really helped our offense keep moving," Brown said. "They can't think as much, they just to go in and work."
Sophomore running back Kenneth Iheme and junior Josh Beachum saw considerable time in the backfield. Starter Edward Smith sat out again to stay healthy.
"Guys were making plays and getting up the field," Brown said. "Backs did a good job of seeing the hole and hitting it, and the receivers are catching the ball and getting up the field instead of dancing around. The quarterbacks made some good throws."
Perhaps the biggest difference was in Albert, who Brown said he was still leaning toward because of his experience in the offense.
"Today he set in the pocket, scrambled a little bit and hit some guys," Brown said. "That's good to see out of him -- means he's maturing as a quarterback."
The Tigers have been using kickers Drew O'Brien and J.P Maciel in different situations throughout camp. That's a trend that could continue as the season goes on. O'Brien punted with the No. 1 team Wednesday.
"J.P. is really on the money inside the 20," Brown said. "When we get a little deeper, I'm not sure he quite has the leg for that yet. Kickoffs just depends on whether we pooch kick or deep kick who we're going to use. They both have their ups and downs, and we're going to go with what guy works best for that situation."
O'Brien, a junior and graduate of Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, handled kicking duties last season, and was the team's second-leading scorer. He led the Tigers in scoring as a true freshman two seasons ago.
Last season, he was 51 of 53 on PAT attempts, and 5 of 12 on field goals, 1 of 5 inside 30 yards.
Maciel, a sophomore from Enid, Okla, by way of Cowley College, was 3 for 3 Wednesday inside the 35, but was short and right from 42 yards.
Brown said the Tigers will spend today working against each other on offense and defense, but then split and start working in preparation for next week's opener.
"It's time to get in game mode -- get them ready to go," Brown said. "They're chomping at the bit, and they're ready to play and start preparing for something else, seeing something new offensively and defensively."