VMI auditions new faces in preseason scrimmage

vmi-footballWith personnel evaluation and special teams work a key focus, VMI Football took closer steps to formulating its depth chart after conducting its first preseason scrimmage of fall camp Wednesday morning at Foster Stadium.

The Keydets ran 80 plays from scrimmage in the quick paced, hour-plus long morning workout, with all three offensive units seeing action. The offense generated 18 first downs over the course of the scrimmage while the defense produced two takeaways.

The scrimmage featured a balanced running attack centered on three first-year players. Tyain Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) led all rushers with 37 yards on 9 carries, while Daz Palmer (Norfolk, Va.) and Alex Ramsey (Salem, Va.) contributed 28 and 27 yards, respectively.

“I was very happy with the energy and effort the Keydets brought today,” said head coach Scott Wachenheim. “We got a lot of things covered in special teams situations. The first, second and third offense went and we got good reps. We’ll get to go back and evaluate the tape and see what corrections need to be made and we get to evaluate the two deep really seriously and get ready for Akron.”

Sophomore wide receiver Mason Dermott (Roanoke, Va.) provided two of longest plays from scrimmage with two catches for 42 yards including a 22-yard scoring grab. New wide receivers Javeon Lara (Fr.-Schulenburg, Tex.) and former VMI track star Pete Reed combined for nine catches and 50 yards receiving while veteran tight end Ryan Swingle hauled in three receptions for 41 yards.

The scrimmage opened with the first unit under redshirt junior quarterback Al Cobb moving 35 yards in eight plays before settling for a 49-yard field goal by Dillon Christopher. Five rushes by sophomore running back Quan Myers for 28 yards moved the Keydets within field goal territory.

The offense on its third possession produced the first touchdown of the day on a 27-yard TD strike from freshman quarterback Duncan Hodges to freshman Matt Blaser (Poquoson, Va.).

The defense countered on the next series when senior cornerback Damian Jones stepped in front of a Cobb deep ball intended for Reed and made a diving interception at the one-yard line.

On the ensuing possession, converted quarterback Jade Maher snared a square-out pattern throw from redshirt freshman Austin Coulling and dashed to the end zone for a 19-yard score. Smith rushed five times for 28 yards to key the 59-yard scoring drive.

Hodges later added a 14-yard touchdown to Dermott and redshirt sophomore running back Brice Tucker reached the end zone with a 17-yard jaunt on his only touch of the day. The scrimmage scoring was capped by a 20-yard field goal by freshman Reed King (Yorktown, Va.).

Defensively, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Zach Baker halted a reverse with an 8-yard tackle for loss and pass break-ups were also credited to defensive back Riuq Trotman, and linebackers Ryan Francis and Gabe Sutherland. Linebacker Caleb Lindsey also had a fumble recovery to spark the defensive play.

Coulling completed nine of 15 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown while Hodges had eight completions for 89 yards and three TDs.

VMI resumes practice Thursday with two-a-day sessions scheduled for 10:00 am and 7:30 p.m.

The Keydets open the season at Akron September 3 at 6:30 and the game will be carried on ESPN3.

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