Saturday, August 18, 2018

Hendrix unhappy with Paladins' scrimmage

Furman football coach Clay Hendrix (photo courtesy of Furman)
In a matter of a couple hours Saturday, the mood surrounding the Furman football team went from "only two weeks to go until the season begins" to "thank goodness there's still two weeks to go until the season begins."

The Paladins held their first officiated scrimmage of the preseason Saturday at Paladin Stadium. Their performance was one that coach Clay Hendrix hopes to never see any other Saturday.

"We looked dead," Hendrix said. "We just don't have enough guys playing up to the level that we need to play at.
"We've had a good camp up until today. It just wasn't very good today."

Senior quarterback Harris Roberts was held out of Saturday's scrimmage after injuring this throwing hand when it collided with a helmet this week in practice. That allowed for Hendrix and his staff to get a bigger look at the three freshmen who took snaps Saturday, along with junior Reese Vita.

Hamp Sisson opened the scrimmage with the rest of the starting offense and rotated series with redshirt freshman JeMar Lincoln for much of the afternoon. Sisson, who Hendrix said had a great week of practice, struggled a bit Saturday but did connect on a deep throw to Thomas Gordon. Gordon's 61-yard reception set up a six-yard touchdown run by Deon Sanders.

Quarterbacks were ruled down by touch which brought an early end of some of Lincoln's runs, but he flashed some speed and completed all four of his passes for 38 yards. On his first series, Lincoln guided the Paladins into field goal range but Grayson Atkins' 48-yard attempt into the wind was no good.

Freshman Darren Grainger later led the offense down the field and Atkins capped the drive with a 36-yard field goal. The lone other score of the day was an eye opener. Grainger showed a great initial burst of speed on a read option that he kept and toted 52 yards for a touchdown.

"Right now on offense, we just don't have any leadership," Hendrix said. "We don't have very many old guys at all and it just kind of showed today."

As with any intrasquad scrimmage, the flip side of one group struggling is the opposite group shining. Furman's defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage Saturday and the defense came up with three turnovers, including interceptions by Bryan Okeh and Quandarius Weems.

"I thought defensively, we did some good things. What concerns me is we don't have enough second-line guys stepping up," Hendrix said. "We can't play with just 11 or 12 guys. We've got to develop a little more depth over there."

Hendrix said the team will try to use the tape of Saturday's scrimmage to fix their mistakes. He's confident they will.

"We had a great offseason," Hendrix said. "We put way too much work in to go perform like we did today."

The Paladins will wrap up preseason camp on Thursday before beginning game week preparation for the season opener Sept. 1 at Clemson. Furman will hold another officiated scrimmage Wednesday at 9 a.m.

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