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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Cougars conclude first scrimmage

On the first and third plays of the Cougars’ opening scrimmage, the offense was penalized for illegal motion. On the second play quarterback Case Keenum connected with receiver Patrick Edwards for a 65-yard touchdown.

It was a mixed bag of positives and negatives on both sides of the ball Saturday at Robertson Stadium.

“I’m the most unhappy guy after every scrimmage,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “I try to see the big picture. It’s different as a head coach, you’re never happy. If you’re a coordinator it’s different when you have one goal to either stop them or score points.

Sophomore David Piland received reps as the backup quarterback. On his first possession he led the second-team offense to an eight-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a touchdown from junior running back Braxton Wellford.

Piland went on to complete two touchdown passes, and Wellford recorded an additional touchdown.

The defense was experimental, putting players in new positions. Defensive back Chevy Bennett was expected to start at cornerback, but he received playing time at safety.

“We moved Chevy to safety two days ago,“ Sumlin said. “We’re playing some other guys all over the place. We’re just trying to play our best guys on the field, and get a feel for what’s going on. We have a lot to build on.

“There weren’t a whole lot of missed tackles by the first and second defensive teams, but we’ve got to shore up some things defensively.”

Sophomore offensive lineman Ty Cloud sprained a knee in Friday’s practice and missed the scrimmage. Fellow lineman Ralph Oragwu was banged up and will have an MRI.

Defensive back Kent Brooks, linebacker Ephrem Oliphant and wide receivers E.J. Smith and Tyron Carrier did not participate in the scrimmage for precautionary purposes.

Sumlin said that a prolonged absence in training camp could lead to another player taking their spot.

“Nobody has anything that’s season-threatening at this point,” Sumlin said. “The longer they’re out the better chance other people have to get better.”

While the first scrimmage was all-inclusive, the number of players taking reps at practice will be decreased.

“Everybody here got to play today,” Sumlin said. “That’s been the case the past three or four days. After today that’s not the case. We’re going to move on with the 60 guys we’re going to travel with. We’ve got to get them ready to go.

“The competition is going to ramp up this week, particularly based what we see out here. We evaluate people based on how they perform. The guys who performed didn’t necessarily make all the plays but did what we asked them to do.

The Cougars will try to correct any mistakes in practice this week. The second scrimmage is at 11:30 Aug. 20 at Carl Lewis Field.

“This is a big week for us,” Sumlin said. “We’ve got two practices Monday, two Wednesday and possibly two Friday before we scrimmage again. There’s a possibility that we could have eight practices before next Saturday.”

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