HUNTSVILLE — While the Bearkats admitted that they still have a long way to go, the offense, defense and special teams all made good strides as well as big plays in the final intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday at Bowers Stadium.
“I thought it was pretty good,” Kats senior linebacker Eric Fieilo said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement. We’re not there yet. We’re just trying to get into game situations, that’s really what the scrimmage is.”
A week and a half before the regular-season opener against Houston Baptist, Bearkats coach Willie Fritz was pleased with his team’s performance on Wednesday night.
“I was real proud of our guys,” the coach said. “I thought we looked pretty sharp and crisp. It was the first time with the headphones on and the coaches totally off the field. It was a good chance to work on communication with the coaches. For August 21, I thought we looked pretty sharp.”
Special teams took the field first and worked on field goals, punts and kickoffs.
Freshman Luc Swimberghe took the first few attempts, banking one in from 35 yards away off the right upright and also had one blocked from 45. Brad Dunavant, who also punted, also converted a 35-yarder.
For the most part, the defense was sharp and put a lot of pressure on the offensive backfield and also came up with a few turnovers as Fieilo and freshman safety Tyrel Stokes each came up with interceptions.
“We’re working on everything from little things like alignment to knowing who you’ve got and where you’ve got to be,” Fieilo said.
“We know we lost a lot of seniors and that happens everywhere. Somebody’s going to get hurt like I did last year and Jesse Beauchamp filled in just like that. We’ve got guys who’ve played in good situations who can do that for us.”
Just like it was on Saturday morning, the offense started to get into a rhythm toward the end of the workout.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Don King III hit a few big passes to sophomore wide receiver Josh Reynolds and freshman tight end Ragan Henderson.
In the final situation of the workout, senior quarterback Brian Bell connected with speedy senior receiver Torrance Williams on a pair of passes to move to within striking distance of the end zone.
The offense also converted a fourth down when Bell hit junior Ja’Vante Mack, who transferred from Tyler Junior College, in the middle of the field.
With one second left on the clock and the offense needing to pick up 13 yards for a score, Bell zipped a pass through traffic for Mack, who reeled in the ball and then absorbed a hit at the goal line for the touchdown.
“I thought maybe there were five or six runs that could have been long touchdowns,” Fritz said. “There were probably also four or five passes that may have been sacks or big hits on the quarterback. I tell them that this is as close as we can simulate to a real game. It’s not a real game. The Bearkats will never play the Bearkats.
“I thought there were some good things. At times, we were pretty crisp but other times, you saw that it was an early-season scrimmage as well. There were some breakdowns in protection three or four times, I noticed. That’s just something we’ve got to work out.”
The Bearkats have just two more days left of their preseason camp.
Next week, the Kats will begin their preparation for the Aug. 31 regular-season opener against Houston Baptist.