Today was a beautiful day for football. Sun shining. Steam rolling off the turf at Nippert. Nippert! The construction is all but finished and the stadium is a newly-remodelled gem.
The first team defense impressed at today’s scrimmage. On the first two possessions they prevented the high-flying offense, featuring Gunner Kiel, from connecting on any decent plays from scrimmage. Kiel did eventually connect on a long pass to Chris Moore for a score, though much later in the afternoon. The defense even proved stout in the redzone, the secondary knocking down Gunner’s on-target tosses.
While the first team offense was not unstoppable today, Tion Green was. He played with the first and second team offenses, and was intrepid on his first series running with the second team unit. He caught two balls, ran with abandon after the catches, and was difficult for anyone to bring down. Then, he took a hand-off for a rumbling touchdown sprint. I’ve been watching him all week at Camp Higher Ground, and thought he looked healthy and strong.
Realistically, the Bearcats are stacked at all of the skill positions. Hosey Williams and Mike Boone are phenomenal. Mike Boone broke free on a couple of runs today. However, I think the coaching staff is going to have a difficult time keeping Tion off the field and the ball out of his hands.
Hayden Moore was also impressive. I heard an anecdote about Hayden while I was out at Higher Ground. Apparently the QBs routinely try to throw passes into trash cans from different distances. According to legend, Hayden leads all throwers at trash can accuracy from all distances.
He was deadly accurate today on a play-action pass. He faked a hand-off to Tion, and then dropped a dime over the shouder of Alex Chism who took the ball and ran for a 98 yard touchdown. Chism also impressed by hauling in a catch later in the NW corner of the end zone.
Andrew Gantz was also money in the bank this afternoon. He was throwing all kinds of smoke off his right toe, making kicks from all distances.
The younger guys were fun to watch. Ross Trail, who seemed overwhelmed during scrimmages at Higher Ground, got his legs underneath him today. He dropped back to throw, got pressured, and scrambled for a score. He appears to be more than just a passer, with above average agility. On one play, he connected with local product Braxton Neal. Trail lobbed a ball deep, and Braxton Neal competed in the air and pulled down the 30+yd. completion over the defensive back. Promising signs of things to come.
I was worried about the defensive unit coming into the season. I wouldn’t say all my concerns have been asuaged, but I will say they flat completed with the first team offense – something I would have never anticipated coming into this afternoon. The offensive unit is too talented not to catch fire in most games. Too much speed. Too much size on the edges. Too much Gunner (and maybe even a dash of Hayden). If the defense holds the line, there’s no telling…