SFA Athletics Press Release
Despite a heat index over 110 degrees at the beginning of the afternoon, the Stephen F. Austin football team took to Homer Bryce Stadium Saturday for its first full-pad scrimmage of fall camp. The Lumberjacks ran 98 plays, primarily with the first and second teams, and worked on punting and field goal kicking as the offense wore white and the defense purple.
Wearing full pads and going into full-contact mode for just the second time of fall camp, SFA's scrimmage lasted approximately 1.5 hours and featured everything the 'Jacks have been working on over the last nine days. With the first game of the season just 21 days away, the 'Jacks displayed plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the season. However, there were also some areas SFA showed Saturday that need to be improved upon.
"I saw a lot of both, a lot of good things on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game", head coach Clint Conque said about what he liked and didn't like during the first scrimmage of the preseason. "I saw, obviously, some things that we've got to get cleaned up. It's certainly a work in progress. We held six starters today, giving a lot of opportunity to several young men to get extended work today. I had a couple nicked up so we had to fill in appropriately. A lot of good, some not so good. Obviously, we need to get in here and look at it and evaluate it. The young men we held out we've got to get back the beginning of next week and get our work in."
The scrimmage got started with the team's usual dynamic team warmup and stretching, before breaking out into a short period of positional drills. The lone kickoff of the day took place first as the offense gathered on the far sideline and the defense rested on the near sideline. The kickoff was simply that, without a return of full formation. From there, the ball was spotted for each play with drives beginning at the offense's own 35-yard line.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Blumrick (Pearland, Texas) led the first team offense as senior Kijana Amous (Mansfield, Texas) was the featured running back. After getting the ball across midfield on the opening drive, the defense stepped up and forced the first of two fumbles on the day. Also taking reps in the backfield was redshirt freshman Josh McGowen (McAllen, Texas), while sophomore running back Jamall Shaw (Broken Arrow, Okla.) and junior Arkansas transfer Juan Day (Little Rock, Ark.) were the primary backs on the second team offense. Junior quarterback Ryan Cottingame (Sunnyvale, Texas) led the second team offense as both signal callers looked poised and decisive, despite facing pressure from the SFA's defensive front.
A pair of offensive players stood out in sophomore wide receiver Cody Williams (Pearland, Texas) and junior wide receiver and Texas A&M transfer Frank Iheanacho (Houston, Texas), both of whom made up two of the 'Jacks three scores in the scrimmage. Williams scored the first touchdown of the afternoon about halfway through the scrimmage when he reached the end zone on a 50-yard catch and run connection from Blumrick. Iheanacho then scored when he reeled in a 25-yard pass from Blumrick later on in the afternoon. North Texas transfer junior wide receiver Terian Goree (Carthage, Texas) also accounted for a couple athletic plays.
All three of SFA's scores took place in the second half as the third player to account for a touchdown was McGowen, who crossed the plane after a 16-yard scamper. Blumrick may have been able to score a pair of touchdowns on a QB sneak and a scramble but both plays were blown dead to protect the field general.
Defensively, the 'Jacks forced two turnovers, both fumbles, and provided several high-octane hits. Perhaps what the defense did best was stop the offense inside the red zone and force two field goal attempts, one of which was nearly blocked.
"I thought our defensive front was pretty relentless today", Coach Conque remarked about who stood out to him in the scrimmage. "I thought Juan Day had a couple of nice runs, I thought Jake Blumrick did some good things, and Frank Iheanacho. Defensively, I thought Terrance Potts (Trinity, Texas) flashed along with Spencer Choka (Bryan, Texas). Back on the other side of the ball, I thought McGowen had a nice run or two. Cody Williams I thought was pretty consistent and I'm really high on Dylan Parker (Elysian Fields, Texas), I think he has a chance to help us as a true freshman receiver."
"At times the protection was good and at times it broke down", commented Coach Conque, "At times quarterbacks held onto the ball too long. You know, it's just the ninth practice so we've got some positives to build on but, obviously, there are some things we've got to get cleaned up. I'm not happy with the penalties at all, we've got to play cleaner in all three phases. We had a couple of center snaps there that caused non-productive plays. We've got a lot to work on."
After a rough offensive first half, the 'Jacks focused on field goal kicking as each kicker went through several rounds of field goal attempts with a stacked line of scrimmage. Following the special teams play, SFA went back to work on offensive drives before practicing punting and fielding punts without a return. Late in the second half of the scrimmage, the ball was spotted at the offense's 25-yard line in order to work on near red zone offensive and defensive plays. The scrimmage wrapped up with a near field goal block by freshman cornerback Nathan Giles (Royse City, Texas).
The 'Jacks will remain in Homer Bryce for Sunday's practice session but will strip down to shoulder pads, helmets and shorts for day 10 of fall camp. Sunday will be SFA's second night practice of the preseason, getting things underway at 7:30 p.m. under the lights. The 'Jacks will then have Monday off for their second off day of camp.
Fans and supporters of SFA athletics will have a chance to meet the football team at the 37th annual Meet the 'Jacks hosted by the Fredonia Rotary Club on Thursday, Aug. 24, at 6:30 p.m. The event will be held in the Grand Ballroom of SFA's Baker Pattillo Student Center. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door the night of the event.
The 'Jacks open up the 2017 season at SMU on Saturday, Sept. 2, before beginning the home portion of their schedule the following weekend against Southern Utah (Sept. 9).
Season tickets for 2017 SFA Football are on sale through the SFA athletics ticket office and can be purchased here. Available season ticket packages include reserved chair back and reserved bench seats. SFA football season tickets start at only $63 for the general public and $38 for faculty and staff. For more information, call 936-468-5225 (JACK).
Stay tuned to SFAJacks.com, as well as SFA's social media platforms, for complete 2017 fall camp coverage.