|Photo courtesy of HBU Athletic Media Relations Department|
Several of Huskies' freshman shine before strong crowd.
HOUSTON, TEXAS (August 23, 2014) Even though they couldn't yet sit in the bleachers at Husky Stadium, about 200 fans lined the sidelines Saturday night as the HBU football team scrimmaged in its final practice before classes start Monday.
"I think any time you can raise the importance of a workout, with much more of a game feel to it in terms of how we competed, you begin to understand more about the growth and maturity that's occurred in your returning players and the key thing for us as coaches is seeing how our younger players are going to respond," head coach Vic Shealy said. "I'm continually impressed with the way the freshman class shows maturity and the ability to compete, and I'm impressed by the overall football IQ of the program that we're trending towards and our ability to handle the volume of our schemes."
When class begins next week, HBU will practice Monday through Thursday from 6:30-8:30 a.m.
"Tonight, we tackled much better than we did in the first scrimmage and that was good to see," Shealy said. "I thought our quarterbacks did more to create offense, even though sometimes it was after the designated play broke down, they showed the ability to save a play."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Ka'Darius Baker and sophomore quarterback Jonathan Fleming split most of the snaps, while true freshman Isaiah Hall saw action in a third-down series.
"We spent a good bit of time in the red zone because from an offensive standpoint, you've got to get the ball in the endzone, and conversely on defense you got to force them to try a field goal instead of the offense scoring," Shealy said. "We worked on coming off the goal line and I think it's important to get a mass of third down work in, both in the goal line and open field area."
The Huskies scrimmaged for about 90 minutes, working on red zone, third down and goal line situations, as well as the kicking game.
HBU's running backs dominated early with redshirt freshman B.J. Kelly taking the first four snaps, carrying four times for 25 yards and capping it with an 8-yard touchdown. Redshirt freshman Craig Bell Jr. scored on a 33-yard draw play by bouncing it out to the left sideline, and true freshman Terrance Peters Jr. scored on a seven-yard gain and added a tough 15-yard run for a first down.
"Just to continue seeing us run the ball, I think we're doing a good job up front in terms of giving some holes to run through, but our backs are running with authority and toughness," Shealy said. "(Assistant coach) Shannon Kelley has done a tremendous job growing them, and I think tonight one of the things that really showed was Terrance Peters and his ability to play fast, be able to cut open field and make people miss. That's just an area now where it will be interesting to see who starts for us, because we've got about four guys where it doesn't matter who's in the ball game right now. It's a great challenge to have.
True freshman wide receiver D'Angelo Wallace made several receptions, including a 54-yard touchdown from Baker and a 30-yard gain on a third-down conversion on which Fleming scrambled to his right and hit Wallace on the sideline. On the defensive side, freshman Dominique Barnett and junior John Wesby each grabbed interceptions, while Kameron Lecoq had a sack.
"D'Angelo Wallace is just a guy when we recruited him, what we were looking for was a guy that was dynamic in his movement and great with the ball in his hands after a catch and a guy that really showed evidence of being a high-production player," Shealy said. "I wouldn't say D'Angelo's been a pleasant surprise, because we had high expectations for him, but it's been tremendous just to see him play fast and – frankly – I think it's going to be hard for our older guys to keep him off the field."
"Then on the other side of the ball, there's Dominique Barnett with the interception he made and the consistency with which he's been playing," Shealy said. "That play is indicative of the way he's been playing the last couple of weeks and he's so explosive and the learning curve is continuing to go up. He's thinking less and playing faster."
The Huskies are preparing for the season opener at home against McMurry on Sept. 6 at Husky Stadium to kickoff the program's first official season as a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and the Southland Conference.