WR Chris Jordan, down with a shoulder injury during Friday night's practice, should be back early next week according to coach Bill Doba. The Cougs' head man said the senior has a bone bruise but did not suffer a dislocation or significant shoulder injury, as some onlookers Friday originally feared. The 6-1, 205-pounder has had an outstanding fall camp to date after two-plus seasons of battling knee problems.
In addition to Jordan, the entire team could use some rest -- and that's exactly what they're going to get.
"Our legs are tired, at this point," Doba said after scrimmage. "There's no sense in beating a dead horse so we're going to take tomorrow morning off and get some rest." Defensive coordinator Robb Akey also mentioned the Cougs' tired legs.
And shortly after players took the field for the third and final formal scrimmage session of the fall, it appeared the rigors of fall camp had begun to take a toll. Several players sat out the scrimmage and the first-string offense failed to fully find their rhythm, shut down for the most part by a hard-hitting defense that exacted some revenge on an offense that lit up the night in the second scrimmage Wednesday.
"You always want everything to be perfect -- and it's never going to be perfect, but we made strides (today) and that was a good thing," Akey said.
Leading the charge was the defensive line. While conceding a few big plays to the Cougar running game, they allowed little else, recording four sacks and putting on a fearsome pass rush. Garnering those sacks were four different players, as freshman defensive ends Preston Brooks, Ansley Jean-Jacques, and Kevin Kooyman joined sophomore DT Fevaea'i Ahmu in getting hands on tallow-shirted quarterbacks Alex Brink, Gary Rogers and Cole Morgan.
Ahmu looked especially impressive Saturday, seemingly involved in virtually every play at the line, including a big wrap-up about half-way through the session. Also making waves for the defense were sophomore linebacker Cory Evans and junior cornerback Markus Dawes, both of whom just recently returned to action after resting injuries.
Evans, like Ahmu, was seemingly everywhere at once, throwing his 6-foot-1, 227 pound frame forcibly into several unlucky ballcarriers on the day. One Evans' hit, holding the offense to a short gain, could be heard 'round the stadium. Dawes' big play came when he intercepted a Rogers heave, ending the series, and the scrimmage, on a high note for the D.
The offense was not without its own highlights, as Cougar QBs threw for 250 yards. RB Ian Bell glided his way to 51 combined yards rushing and receiving . One especially nice scamper would have gone for much more than the first down had it not been for an impressive open-field tackle by sophomore middle linebacker Greg Trent.
Although the majority of the passes went for short gains, with thirteen different WRs and TEs making receptions, the Jason Hill - Alex Brink combination once again broke out the big play, with Hill catching a Brink bomb and a 44-yard chain mover. Brink was 8-15 for 103 yards on the day while Gary Rogers went 12-of-21 for 112 yards with 1 INT.
The offense also managed to put the ball in the end zone twice on the afternoon, with Brink galloping in from 15 yards out and a Cole Morgan bullet to freshman WR Keith Rosenberg opening the scoring, with the play drawing exuberant applause from offensive players and fans alike.
Not enjoying such success was one of the Cougar place-kickers. If Loren Langley were Napoleon, Saturday's scrimmage may have been his Waterloo. The hard luck junior missed 3-of-5 field goal attempts as Langley's counterpart, walk-on Romeen Abdollmohammadi, went 5-of-5.
Langley's outing caused Doba to shake his head, saying the junior had been near-perfect the previous two days leading up to the scrimmage. Doba, however, dismissed any speculation two roster spots would be taken for placekicking and kickoffs for the opener two weeks from today, also saying he might not make a final decision between the two until "we get on the plane", although Abdollmohammadi would appear to be the odds on favorite.
"I am only taking one of them (to Auburn) with me," said Doba.
The other aspect of the kicking game, punting, looks to be more and more secure following the third scrimmage, as Darryl Blunt had a near-perfect day. The sophomore sent two boomers 50-plus yards, one of them launched with Blunt standing on his own 1-yard line. The long snapping, an adventure in the scrimmage on Wednesday, was spot on as well with Tony Thompson and Zach Enyeart handling the chores. Thompson was the snapper on all of the Blunt kicks.
Other notable absentees for the scrimmage were TE Cody Boyd, DT Aaron Johnson, and RBs DeMaundray Woolridge and Derrell Hutsona.
Scoring – Rosenberg 6 pass from Morgan, Brink 15 run
Rushing – Bell 5/20, Ivory 2/10, Tardy 9/2, McCall 2/3, Richmond 2/3, Brink 3/37
Passing - Brink 8/15/0/0/103, Rogers 12/21/0/1/112, Morgan 3/5/1/0/35
Receiving – Largent 4/23, Hill 2/52, Ward 2/16, Gibson 2/18, Collins 2/9, Taylor 2/25, Thompson 2/9, Bell 2/31, Dillon 1/30, Houston 1/7, Rosenberg 1/6, Boyd 1/6, Tardy 1/18
Interceptions – Dawes
Sacks – Brooks, Ahmu, Jean-Jacques, Kooyman
Punts – Blunt: 54-57-37, Brayton: 38-44
Field Goals – Langley 2 of 5 (long 32), Abdollmohammadi 5 of 5 (long 37)