Sparks wanting more improvement as Eagles enter final week of spring practice
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — It was far from perfect, but head coach Ken Sparks liked a lot of what he saw in the second Orange and Blue full scrimmage for the Carson-Newman College football team.
Friday inside Burke-Tarr Stadium, players were hitting each other hard and according to Sparks, a guy that's willing to hit can play for him.
"I saw some contact," Sparks said. "I think we've got some people feeling a little more confident. Consequently I feel like we should get a little bit better. People were able to run better and think less. We've thrown a lot at them. They're starting to hit some people."
The Eagles were still short-handed with more than 20 players sidelined with various injuries, including four wide receivers who started last season; sophomore Jason Brown (Plant City, Fla.), freshman Steven Isom (Maryville, Tenn.) and last seasons leading receivers, freshman Anthony Eubanks (Pendleton, S.C.) and junior Patrick Miller (Sevierville, Tenn.).
With their top four wideouts sidelined, some new faces and veterans got to shine. Junior Christian McFall (Jefferson City, Tenn.) saw significant action on offense and as a kick/punt returner. Jarrett Blihovde (Nashville, Tenn.) made a lot of tough catches and nearly scored on a reverse.
"I was surprised he (Blihovde) got caught from behind," Sparks said. "He's got some talent."
On the scoreboard, the Orange team won 28-7, but Sparks was unhappy with both teams' offensive execution.
"I'm not sure if we had to earn points today we would have been able to do it at times," Sparks said. "We ran by some people and got some points, but if we had to score on an 80-yard drive, I'm not sure we could have."
The first points scored were actually on defense. Freshman linebacker William Alderman (Winston-Salem, N.C.) of the Blue team scooped up a fumble and powered his way down the field for a 50-yard touchdown.
The Orange team answered back with a long drive led by sophomore quarterback Johnny Foster (Roebuck, S.C.). After Blihovde long run to open the drive, sophomore Tyron Douglas (Clover, S.C.) needed two plays to punch it into the end zone.
On defense, junior cornerback Tarvin Jones (St. Petersburg, Fla.) transfer cornerback Anthony Hooks (Charlotte, N.C.) both had interceptions on defense.
Lavelle Larry, a transfer from Georgia Southern, made his debut on the field for the Eagles and was a force at safety, challenging running backs all game.
The Eagles will hold two more practices next week before spring practice culminates with the final, and official, annual Orange and Blue game Thursday at Burke-Tarr Stadium.