Tyler Lee + Marshall Showcase Big-Play Potential On Offense During Friday’s Scrimmage
TYLER -- There were the usual mistakes common to first scrimmages, but there were also glimpses of excellence throughout Friday night's scrimmage between Marshall and Tyler Lee at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Each team scored twice during the controlled portion of the scrimmage, and twice again during the live-action segment, which was played with a 12-minute clock.
Marshall used mostly first-team performers throughout the live-action quarter, while Tyler Lee took the opportunity to rest some of its starters after the team's first series.
Tyler Lee, under third-year coach Darrell Piske, threw the ball with more regularity than what the Red Raiders will ultimately do once the regular season begins. Junior quarterback Zach Hall was an efficient 11-of-14 for 178 yards and two touchdowns during the controlled scrimmage, and was 3-of-4 for 35 yards on Lee's first series of the live period.
"We didn't run Zach much, or we tried not to," Piske said of his second-year starting quarterback. "We're going to throw it but we're not going to throw it every other down. We just didn't want to get him hit."
Junior running back Tavon Wesley didn't get a ton of work during controlled action, but carried the ball five times for 22 yards in his only series during the live quarter. Fellow junior running back Devonte Craver got the bulk of carries with the starters.
"Tavon is Tavon, and we know he's good, but (Devonte Craver) is pretty good," Piske said. "We got him out of the gym; he dropped P.E., and so he's a good surprise -- just a junior."
Lee's defense, which allowed 39.1 points per game in 2013 and was susceptible to the big play for most of the year, played well at times Friday. Overall, the Red Raiders forced five turnovers -- three fumbles and a pair of interceptions. But the secondary also allowed four passing plays of more than 40 yards.
"In the secondary (starting safety Hudson Hill) got hurt, and we tried to play some of those younger kids," Piske said. "And that's who gave up the big play, just looking in the backfield instead of reading their keys. They've got to realize it ain't 7-on-7, and they've gotta play the run and the pass now. They've got to learn how to keep their eyes on the read. But other than that, I thought we did pretty good. We had a good attitude and played with a little intensity."
The forced turnovers, though, made a big impression on Piske.
"They've been working on it," the coach said. "We've been talking to the secondary guys about playing until the whistle blows. You can turn a big play into a big play for us by just hustling your butt off and stripping them at the end."
Marshall second-year coach Clint Harper wasn't pleased with his team's carelessness with the ball, but credited them for not allowing the negative plays to overshadow their overall performance.
"That was my only concern really, protecting the ball a little bit better," he said. "I loved that our kids played hard. We got down 14-0 in the game part, and last year I'm not sure our character and a lack of offseason, we probably would not have kept playing hard. That's the part I'm proudest of, is that we kept playing hard."
Mavericks junior quarterback Justin Hart was on the money all night long. During the controlled scrimmage, he was 9-of-13 for 215 and two touchdowns. Hart also competed 8-of-9 attempts for 180 yards and two TDs during the live quarter.
"Justin is a very, very accurate quarterback and we made some plays for him," Harper said. "We made some tough catches and we've got to continue that. I thought the receivers in the game part really made some big-time, highlight catches and some runs afterwards."
Receivers Jaquavian Dabbs and Deonte Jordan had the biggest impacts in the passing game. Dabbs had touchdown catches of 21 and 28 yards, while Jordan beat the Lee defense on a seam route for a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
"He's just a tremendous athlete and we have a lot of things we're going to do with him," Harper said of Jordan. "He actually played running back last year on the JV, and really had a great spring. He catches the ball extremely well, and gets behind the defense. He gives us that extra gear."
Dabbs has speed to burn as well.
"He ran a legit 10.7 last year in the 100 at a track meet," Harper said. "He gets the ball in his hands and he can go. We're going to try to get him the involved in a number of different ways, and just let him be an athlete. Obviously he can get behind you pretty quick also."
Harper said Hart and sophomore Cameron Haller (5-11, 195), a dynamic athlete that the coach thinks has the potential to be one of the area's best, will both be used in Marshall's offense this season -- similar to the situation involving Hart and the graduated Jauque Kuykendall last year.
"Cameron Haller is an impressive athlete," Harper said. "He bench pressed 390 pounds last night at our lift-a-thon as a sophomore. Obviously we were blowing a quick whistle, but I counted four touchdowns he would've had if we wouldn't have been blowing the whistle on any kind of quarterback run or scramble."
Marshall opens the season next Friday at home against Royse City, while Lee plays host to Keller Fossil Ridge next Saturday night.