Offense Flips the Script in Howard Scrimmage
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Howard University Head Coach Carey Bailey made out like a prophet when he predicted that offense would step up and dominate in the team's next controlled scrimmage. The defense appeared to be way ahead of the offense as it controlled the line of scrimmage, forced turnovers and registered sacks during play last week.
Fast forward one week and it was the offense which displayed some impressive play that left the usually hard-to-please Bailey, encouraged.
"I thought we did a much better job on offense," said Bailey, entering his third year at the helm. "The offensive, in particular, was much better in its overall play and execution. We put a lot of emphasis on the fundamentals and cohesiveness during practice this week and it showed out here today."
Buoyed by the return of senior center Sean Woolford, who missed the first scrimmage with a minor injury, and the play of senior guard Michael Russell and red-shirt freshman tackle Davin Morris, the offensive front was able to open holes for the Bison running backs and provided protection for the quarterbacks.
While the first scrimmage was marred by several miscues, the unit moved the ball well on Saturday. Tailbacks Kenneth Austin-Bruce and Andra Williams took turns finding seams in the Howard defense and running to daylight. Austin-Bruce, a 6-1, 235-pound red-shirt senior from Louisville, KY did most of his damage with some power runs that sometimes featured him dragging tacklers. He scored once.
Williams, a 5-8, 180-pound freshman from Deland, FL, continues to show that he is going to be a factor in the Bison's running attack. After fumbling on the team's first series, Williams settled down and had several runs where he eluded would-be tacklers with some slick moves and cuts. He also scored a TD.
Red-shirt senior quarterback Floyd Haigler appears to be a lot more comfortable this year after his first full season where he took every snap. His decision making and command of the offense has Coach Bailey pleased.
"Bo (Haigler's nickname) is playing real well right now," said Coach Bailey. "He is doing all the right things and he seems very comfortable with some of things that we have put in to simplify things."
Haigler consistently found senior Brandon Sherman, Richard Nelson and Phillip Dokes. Sherman, a 5-10, 180-pound senior wide receiver from Winston-Salem, NC made some nice third down catches that kept drives alive.
Nelson is a 6-1, 195-pound red-shirt senior from Homestead, FL could be a surprise contributor in this unit, which is arguably the deepest and most talented on the squad. Nelson has played little in the past due to injuries but if his nifty TD catch in the corner of the end zone is any indication, then he could have a fine season.
Dokes is a 6-6, 225-pound sophomore tight end who not only gives the Bison potentially one of the most productive players at that position in years, he could very well emerge as the best in the conference. A transfer from Tulsa, Dokes threw a key block on the TD run by Austin-Bruce while also grabbing a couple of passes, including one where he sucked up with his left hand while falling to the turf. His large frame and athleticism makes him very difficult to cover.
Defensively, Howard was missing some key performers to an assortment of minor injuries. But there were some standout performances. Lanny Kelly, a 5-8, 180-pound sophomore from Berkeley, CA had a fine day, forcing one fumble, recovering another and making several other plays.
Senior safeties Martin Corniffe and Arando Jamison both continued their consistent play. Ian Simon, a 6-2, 230-pound sophomore inside linebacker was cited by Coach Bailey for his play as was red-shirt freshman Keith Pough, who was making plays from his outside linebacker position.
Howard opens its season on September 12 when it travels to New Brunswick, NJ to take on Rutgers at 3 pm.