Tuesday, Oct 25, 2016
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Rockets seek consistency

Defense struggles in team's latest spring scrimmage



Football coaches walk a fine line during intrasquad workouts, wanting both the offense and defense to do well — but not too well.

If one side is consistently outperforming the other, it is both a blessing and a curse.

For University of Toledo coach Tim Beckman, that exact scenario has played out for much of the Rockets' spring practices.

In the second scrimmage of the spring Friday night at the Glass Bowl, the offense showed clear dominance over the defense, according to Beckman. This after the first scrimmage, when the defense was far superior to the offense.

"It's kind of been a little bit inconsistent," Beckman said, "and to be a championship football team, you've got to be consistent. So that's the challenge for this football team right now is to be able to play at that level all the time."

UT has one final week of practices, culminating in Friday's spring game at 7 p.m. at the Glass Bowl.

"I'm not disappointed with the effort, because I think the effort has been there, and they've bought in to everything we're doing," Beckman said. "It's just about becoming a more consistent football team. We can't have penalties, we can't have turnovers. [Friday] night, we didn't have as many turnovers, but defensively, we gave up too many big plays. We have to do better and continue to improve."

Beckman didn't specify any particular moments or players that stood out from either of the spring scrimmages, and both workouts were completely closed to the media.

Those in attendance, however, said top performers included sophomore receiver Bernard Reedy, junior receiver and Illinois transfer Cordale Scott, junior defensive end and Perrysburg product T.J. Fatinikun, and the team's four primary running backs — seniors Adonis Thomas and Morgan Williams and sophomores David Fluellen and Darius Reeves.

POSITION CHANGES: One of the benefits of spring practices is the ability for coaching staffs to move players around to different positions, taking from areas of depth and strengthening other positions.

Jordan Barnes, a junior college transfer from Western Oklahoma State College and a former Oklahoma State recruit of Beckman's, has been moved from linebacker to defensive end and is a reserve at the "leo" — or left end.

"But he hurt his knee, so he's been kind of shelved for the rest of the spring," Beckman said of Barnes.

Junior Byron Best has been moved from cornerback to the "star" — a hybrid safety/linebacker position — and redshirt freshman James Gordon has been moved from the star to weakside linebacker.

SPRING DRAFT: Following a tradition started by Beckman, the Rockets will conduct their annual spring draft Monday evening to divide the entire team, including players, coaches, and support staff, into two separate squads, Gold and Blue, for Friday's spring game.

UT's seniors are first split up onto the two teams, then they are the ones responsible for making the draft picks, although there isn't too much discussion of who the top prospects are until draft night.

"I keep it to myself, because I don't know who's going to be on my team from the defense," senior cornerback Desmond Marrow said with a smile. "I'm over there scheming and scouting on every play."

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com or 419-724-6084.

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