Tulsa Spring Game Recap
Watching Cardell Williams shine was, in itself, a reason for the over 1,000 fans to feel good about going to the TU Spring Football game Saturday afternoon at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
Williams, an early enrollee fresh out of high school, provided some offense in a scrimmage otherwise dominated by the defense.
There are usually only a few memorable things from a spring scrimmage. Watching Williams was one of them. Another one was watching Owen Ostroski.
A 6-foot-2, 180-pound quarterback out of Westfield HS in Houston, Williams was 4 of 6 for 93 yards and a touchdown, and showed great agility and mobility.
Although playing for the second team against the second team defense, Williams did well with his opportunities as the third of three quarterbacks to see action.
After getting sacked by Ostroski on his first series, Williams found redshirt freshman Scottie Alexander on a perfect 55-yard deep pass on the series that started from their own 35-yard-line. The offense had to settle for a 36-yard field goal by Zack Long for the first score of the scrimmage.
On his second and final series, Williams avoided pressure, scrambling to his left before he completed a 14-yard strike to 5-9 redshirt walk-on freshman Jeshari Houston in the end zone for the first touchdown of the game on a series that started from their own 40-yard-line.
On the final series of 10 in the game, which started on the 25-yard-line of the defense, a 23-yard run by Deneric Prince on the first play was followed by what looked like a TD run by Prince.
But Prince was ruled down short of the goal because there wasn't full tackling in the scrimmage, and although Prince would clearly have scored in normal circumstances, he wasn't awarded a TD. Instead, Tyler Tipton kicked a 20-yard field goal on the final play of the scrimmage.
With the tackling rules of the scrimmage, it is pointless to call short yardage, smash mouth plays in a game where players are trying to avoid injury. Better to kick the field goal to end the scrimmage healthy.
This scrimmage was different than recent others in that it was mostly first team versus first team, and second team versus second team. The last few years, it has been first team versus second team.
It was good to see the young quarterbacks get a lot of action, as returning starter Davis Brin was held out due to recovering from a left hand issue. Brin has been in the 7 on 7 drills this spring, just like he was before the scrimmage.
Brin, with his left hand covered in a sports glove, said after the game that, if it had been a regular game during the season, he would no doubt have played.
Redshirt freshman Braylon Braxton started with the first team and played five of the 10 series in the game, although the last two series started from the 25-yard-line of the defense.
Braxton was 6 of 15 for 43 yards, but had a potential 35-yard touchdown pass dropped in the end zone. Overall, Braxton did some nice things.
Sophomore Roman Fuller played in three series, and was 10 of 15 for 72 yards. His 75-yard drive on the last drive of the scrimmage from its own territory, started from their own 7-yard-line and culminated in Long's second 36-yard field goal of the game.
"This has been a great spring for Braylon, for Roman, for Cardell," said TU coach Philip Montgomery of their chance to play with Brin being held out. "It gave those guys an opportunity to continue to get more reps, to see more things, to get more experience. And that is just going to make us do better as we move forward."
On defense, Owen Ostroski was all over the field wreaking havoc, finishing with two sacks. The redshirt freshman from Holland Hall should definitely get extensive playing time this season.
Senior linebacker Jon-Michael Terry, back for his second season at TU after missing several games last year after transferring from OU, was a standout of the scrimmage as well.
"John-Michael Terry has really stepped up and done some good things," Montgomery said.
The offense was without its top two returning receivers: Keylon Stokes and JuanCarlos Santana. Stokes was in a red jersey, participating in the 7 on 7 drills after recovering from an injury that kept him out of 9 of the 13 games for TU last season.
Barely playing was senior Kentucky transfer Isaiah Epps. The Jenks native had a really strong spring. Epps caught a pass for three yards late in the scrimmage.
With TU's top three receivers out, sophomore Malachi Jones was the Golden Hurricane's top returnee from last season. He caught 3 passes for 28 yards.
Leading the way in the scrimmage was Scottie Alexander with 4 catches for 84 yards.
Redshirt freshman Marquis Shoulders caught 4 for 44 yards. Houston caught 3 for 37 yards, and junior college transfer Nick Rempert caught 1 for 15 yards in a starting role.
At running back, returnees Anthony Watkins and Steven Anderson were held out. Prince, redshirt freshman Bill Jackson, and Jordan Ford all looked good getting the bulk of the action.
On the offensive line, Dillon Wade, Bryce Bray, Will Farniok, Jeremy Jones and Gabe Cantu started, from left to right.
The three-man defensive line, that set the tone for the defense having the upper hand in the scrimmage, had Anthony Goodlow, Joseph Anderson and sophomore Colorado transfer Jaden Simon starting.
They all excelled, and Simon was frequently in the offensive backfield wreaking havoc.
"Jaden Simon has been tremendous for us," Montgomery said. "A guy that has come in and really has bought into what we do. His is big, he is athletic, he can move."
At linebacker, returnees Jon-Michael Terry, Justin Wright and Grant Sawyer started. At safety, Kendarin Ray was back starting, along with LJ Wallace and Bryson Powers. Starting at corner were Tyon Davis and Tyree Carlisle.
Replacing graduated Cannon Montgomery at holder is returning punter Lachlan Wilson.
"I think our defense is really much further ahead than where we are offensively right now because of the inexperience we have there," Montgomery said. "A couple of those are injuries and holding guys out."
Montgomery has been pleased with how the defense has moved on from departed defensive coordinator Joseph Gillespie to new defensive coordinator Luke Olson.
"The transition from Coach Gillespie to Coach Olsen has been seamless," Montgomery said. "Guys are very comfortable and are flying around, and you could see that today."
SPRING GAME STATISTICS
Zach Long 36 FG (7 plays, 47 yards)
Jeshari Houston 14 pass from Cardell Williams, Tipton PAT (6 plays, 40 yards)
Zach Long 36 FG (19 plays, 75 yards)
Tyler Tipton 20 FG (3 plays, 24 yards)
Deneric Prince, 10-for-35 yards
Bill Jackson, 10-for-19 yards
Jordan Ford, 1-for-15 yards
Cardell Williams, 4-for-6, 93 yards, 1 TD
Roman Fuller, 10-for-15, 72 yards
Braylon Braxton, 6-for-15, 43 yards
Scottie Alexander, 4-for-84
Marquis Shoulders, 4-for-44
Jeshari Houston, 3-for-37
Nick Rempert, 1-for-15
Brian Johnson, 4 tackles, 1 TFL
Tyree Carlisle, 3 tackles
Grant Sawyer, 3.5 tackles, 1 TFL
Owen Ostroski, 2 sacks
Mitchell Kulkin, 1.5 sacks