Offense Clips Defense In Football's First Preseason Scrimmage
The Drake University football team capped a busy Saturday at Drake Stadium with its first preseason scrimmage on Aug. 16. Paced by a handful of big plays, the offense rallied to take top honors in the scrimmage by a 44-27 margin.
“It’s always good to be back on the field playing as a team and our guys played hard today,” head coach Rick Fox said. “Offensively we were able to make some big plays and defensively they played hard. We’re going to be a good defense and it was good to play full-on.”
The coaching staff implemented a scoring system in which the offense got points for first downs (1), plays of 20 or more yards (1), field goals (3), touchdowns (6), extra points (1). The defense was awarded points for three-and-outs (3), stops on downs (2), turnovers (5), touchdowns (11), safeties (2) and extra points (1).
Despite the final tally, the defense racked up early points with multiple stops and a pair of interceptions from defensive backs Bryan Pisklo (Tulsa, Okla.) and Brad Duwe (Dubuque, Iowa). Duwe also broke up a pass to force a three-and-out prior to his pick.
“I’ve been impressed with how well our secondary has been doing,” Fox said. “One of the tough things in changing defenses is the coverages. There’s so much communication and so much nuance and they have picked it up well.”
However, the offense wasn’t discouraged by the defense’s early dominance.
“Tonight we had a commitment to stay aggressive no matter what on offense,” Fox said. “We had a rough start, the defense had about five straight three-and-outs on defense, but the offense stayed with it and stayed aggressive and were able to get some drives going.”
Those drives were keyed by a 62-yard touchdown reception from Andy Rice (Stevens Point, Wis.) to Grahm Butler (Brock, Neb.). Rice finished the evening with 177 yards passing and Butler as his top target. All told, Butler hauled in five catches for 93 yards.
“I’m pleased with how Andy is learning to manage the offense and make the right checks. He did a great job tonight,” Fox said. “Our running backs made some plays and the receivers did too including the big run by Grahm Butler that got us going.”
The running backs provided the rest of the scoring punch with Gary Scott, Jr. (Forsyth, Ill.) and T.J. James (Des Moines, Iowa) each recording touchdown runs. Scott uncorked a 27-yard jaunt while James broke through the defense for a 34-yard scored. Scott finished with 34 yards on seven carries while James got eight carries for 42 yards.
While the defense showed flashes of dominance, first-year defensive coordinator Todd Stepsis identified consistency as one of the areas in which the defense needs to improve in the next two weeks as well as a renewed focus on tackling.
The Bulldogs will stay off the practice field on Sunday as part of a scheduled day off while the staff reviews film of the scrimmage before returning to the turf on Monday for two scheduled practices.