MEMPHIS, TENN. - The Tigers were back at Christian Brothers High School Saturday morning for another full-tilt scrimmage. Coach Tommy West led his squad through a 92-play workout that lasted about an hour and 40 minutes.
"The defense played much better than they did last Saturday, so I am pleased with the progress we made there this week," said West. The only place I didn't feel good was in the offensive line. I just didn't feel like we had the focus and the grit that we need up there. But, we will work on that this week. Overall, I was okay with today because I felt like we made some progress in places. We have way too many injuries right now which are starting to add up."
The offense used a balanced attack, which included 51 running plays and two passing touchdowns. Brandon Ross and T.J. Pitts had solid running efforts throughout the scrimmage. Ross rolled off 51 yards on eight carries and had a one-yard TD run on the 70th play of the day. He had long runs of 12, 14 and 15 yards. Pitts tallied 50 yards on seven carries and had the long run of the day - a 38-yard gain. He scored on a one-yard carry seven plays after Ross' TD. Curtis Steele totaled 22 yards off 11 carries as the defense had tighter run defense than last weekend.
"I think we got the defense's attention this week," said West. "On behalf of them, there are a lot of new guys who are just now learning this system. I was hard on them last Saturday because we have to play good defense. I thought our run defense was much better today and I was pretty much pleased with our pass defense until we gave up the deep ball. "
Arkelon Hall passed for 134 yards while completing nine of 14 attempts. He tossed a 14-yard TD strike to Carlos Singleton about midway through the scrimmage. He had prime position in the redzone after connecting with Duke Calhoun for a 25-yard gain and Steele's 14-yard run that put the offense on the 8. Steele was dropped for a six-yard loss by Greg Jackson and Steven Turner before the Hall to Singleton hookup from 14 yards out. Hall also managed a 38-yard completion to Calhoun and a 20-yard strike to Deven Onarheim. Calhoun caught three passes for 67 yards and Onarheim totaled 44 yards on four receptions.
Brett Toney completed 6-of-14 attempts for 34 yards. He was effective on the ground, with 22 yards rushing on four carries. He had a long run of 15 yards and a long pass completion of eight yards to Onarheim. Byron Ingram completed two of nine passing attempts but one of those completions was a 40-yard touchdown to Cam Baker on the 41st play of the scrimmage. Baker had a solid effort with four catches for 61 yards and a score. DajLeon Farr was the only other Tiger with multiple receptions, hauling in three passes for eight yards.
"We have to quit throwing the ball out of bounds," said West. "We have good receivers and when you throw the ball out of bounds, it's hard to catch it. We did that about three times today. I think all three guys (Hall, Ingram, Toney) have done well. I don't think anyone has taken the job yet. I think Arkelon is better than he was a year ago. He is throwing the ball better and he is in much better shape and he is running the ball well. Brett doesn't make mistakes and doesn't do the bad things. And then Ingram is an effortless thrower and has a cannon. He has to get better at running the offense."
Defensively, Greg Terrell was credited with a sack of Toney for a three-yard loss early in the workout. Tim McGee logged a sack of Hall for minus 12 yards just eight plays later and Justin Thompson and Frank Trotter paired up for a six-yard loss on a sack of Ingram. Lester Lawson also picked up a sack of Ingram for a nine-yard loss and DeRon Furr had the only interception of the scrimmage off a pass from Toney. Several other defenders were credited with tackles for a loss, including Jamon Hughes, Josh Weaver, Steven Turner, Charlie Bryant and Jeremy Longstreet.
The scrimmage ended with the defense making a stop on 4th and goal from the 4. Arkelon Hall opened that drive with an 11-yard run to the 29. Steele and Baker picked up four yards and three yards on runs on the next two plays to bring the group to the 22. Hall found Onarheim for a 20-yard completion to the 2 just before the drive was backed up on the next play by a false start by the offense. Steele made a one-yard run but Baker was stopped by the defensive front for a three-yard loss. Hall and Steele were both stopped before gaining yardage as the drive stalled.
"Right now we have to get better and more consistent in the offensive line and in the secondary," West explained. "Our front seven on defense are going to be okay. In our secondary, though, we are continuing to make mistakes and lose leverage. We just have to be better there."
The Tigers will conclude the spring session next Saturday with the Blue-Gray Game set for 1 p.m. at Christian Brothers High School. The squad will be available for autographs following the scrimmage.