NOBLE — There wasn't much give in Ardmore's defense against Noble.
The Tigers' first team made plays on every level in its first scrimmage on Friday. Defensive line, linebackers, defensive backs ... Ardmore was truly flying.
It's the offense, however, that's going to be the determining factor for the Tigers this season. The defense will be ready. Will the other side?
"If we just don't turn it over and play field position, our defense will keep us in most games and help us deliver the 'W,'" Ardmore coach Douglas Wendel said.
I still believe we have the talent to be an explosive offense, but with where we are right now we're a ways away from that."
There were at times positives, like the quickness of Kevion McGee in the running game, and sure hands in the receiving game from Devin Reynolds, Derrick Jones and Buddy Johnson. But the Tigers had three fumbles as well, losing two.
"As the day went on, we moved the ball more," defensive lineman/fullback Darius Lawson said. "We had a couple of fumbled snaps, I had a fumble. We can't have that. Two weeks in, we've gotta be ready."
On the drive where the Tigers fumbled twice, starting center Michael Nichols had to leave the game briefly with an injury. The offense also had three projected starters (RB Jamarcus Mills, FB Kydric Knox, OL Daylen Baker) in street clothes due to various injuries. The Tigers were also missing starting safety Rontrey Burkhalter on defense.
That still didn't excuse the turnovers completely, said Wendel.
"We were down to our third fullback, we're not making excuses, but he's been practicing defense; he hasn't been practicing with Clay at all," Wendel said.
"There hasn't been a whole lot of reps in that situation. I really believe that when we get healthy at fullback, we'll should be able to move the ball," Wendel said.
"The bottom line in this offense is the fullback position. You've got to get a go-daddy in there."
Wendel said the players that did fill in played well, and that second-year starting quarterback Clay Atwood performed well. Most of Ardmore's passing game consisted of short passes outside the hash marks, but Atwood found Johnson over the top in the red zone portion of the scrimmage for a 30-yard TD. He also just missed connecting with Reynolds on a fade route.
"Clay managed the game," Wendel said. "He's throwing the ball better than he did last year. I thought he made good decisions throwing the ball."
And there was the hounding defense. Noble struggled to put together much of anything against Ardmore's first team.
"We flew around, swarmed the football and took care of business," defensive end C.J. Long said.
Wendel had high praise for his entire defensive unit, particularly Long, cornerback Keyshawn Brown and safety Carter Swanson. Brown was able to come up with an interception and Ardmore's linebackers also showed range dropping into coverage to break up passes.
"They're good athletes and they're gonna continue to get better," Wendel said of Brown and McGee at cornerback. "I like the confidence they're playing with. Carter Swanson was all over the field that first series, C.J. made all kinds of plays, but you could say that about the entire defense."
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