The do-it-all Terrell Robinson and kicker Nick Pollard both had great days. Defensive end Zack Rayl didn’t. And there was a whole lot of in-between on Friday afternoon at Finley Stadium, as Chattanooga completed its final intra-squad scrimmage of the preseason.
Robinson, who split time at quarterback and wide receiver, completed three of his six pass attempts for 60 yards, including a 43-yard scoring strike to freshman receiver Xavier Borishade. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior also hauled in five passes for 124 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon.
“[Robinson] is good, and he’s going to have a great year for us,” UTC head coach Russ Huesman said of his versatile offensive star. “He’s a weapon, no question.”
Pollard, who has struggled throughout the preseason, redeemed himself with a solid performance. The 2011 Southern Conference All-Freshman selection, who missed a pair of makable kicks in last week’s scrimmage, connected on four of his five tries Friday, including makes from 29, 37, 37 and 44 yards out.
“He missed the one, but he made a lot of them,” Huesman said. “That’s huge. He hasn’t been making a lot of them in camp.”
Unfortunately, Rayl didn’t have that same kind of day.
Near the midway point of the scrimmage, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound junior suffered an injury to his right knee before eventually being helped off the field by team trainer Dave Snyder and teammate Derrick Lott.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” he said. “Sometimes it’s better than you think, and sometimes it’s worse. You just never know, and we won’t know until it gets looked at. I hope he’s okay because he’s worked so hard and he’s a great kid.”
The Mocs have enough depth along their defensive front to absorb the blow — if, in fact, the injury is as severe as it looked — but with redshirt freshman Vantrell McMillan already out for the season with a knee injury, Rayl’s absence could mean that younger players, like true freshman D.J. Prather, will be called on sooner than expected. Junior Toyvian Brand, who started all 11 games at defensive tackle a season ago, switched to end this offseason, and would likely occupy Rayl’s spot at right end.
“We’ll plug somebody in there, obviously, you have to play with 11,” Huesman said. “Let’s just hope it’s nothing — a sprain and he’ll be ready to roll.”
Quick start: Quarterback Jacob Huesman led the first-team unit down the field for a score on its first possession, guiding the offense on a 7-play, 57-yard drive, which featured completions of 2, 16, 32 and 3 yards, and culminated in a 29-yard field goal from Pollard.
“We got off to a real good start,” said offensive coordinator Jeff Durden, whose starting unit was facing the second-team defense.
The first-team offense found the end zone for the first time on their third possession. Huesman, who finished 14-for-23 for 178 yards and pair of scores, found a wide-open Robinson in the end zone from 56 yards out.
The offense faded as the scrimmage wore on, though.
Jacob Huesman was intercepted by redshirt freshman linebacker Alex Kirby, and the Mocs’ running game never quite got on track.
Freshman walk-on Scottie Fleming racked up 37 yards on five carries against the third-team defense, while freshman Derrick Crain finished with 17 yards on five carries. Junior Keon Williams was held out of the scrimmage, as was sophomore Kendrix Huitt, while junior Marquis Green generated just six yards on seven carries.
“We were rolling early, and I think the kids just kind of relaxed a bit,” Durden said. “It wasn’t long after [Rayl’s injury]. I think that kid, he’s a real popular kid on the team, he’s worked his fanny off and it was tough.
“I think we all knew what happened, and I sure didn’t feel very good.”
• Freshman wide receiver Alphonso Stewart participated in Friday’s scrimmage, but was wearing a yellow non-contact jersey. He finished the afternoon without a catch.
• Redshirt freshman cornerback Will Johnson suffered what looked like a severe shoulder injury during Thursday’s practice, but defensive coordinator Adam Braithewaite said, “We’re pretty optimistic that we’re going to get him back.”
• Senior linebacker Gunner Miller didn’t participate in Friday’s scrimmage after suffering a stinger during Friday’s practice at Scrappy Moore Field. Huesman said he’d be back ready Tuesday’s practice.
• Huesman said true freshman offensive lineman Hunter Townson (shoulder) will undergo surgery and will be redshirted this fall. McMillan (knee) and offensive lineman Robert Hill (ankle) will also miss the entire 2013 season due to injury.
• Junior wide receiver Bryant Belew (ankle), senior safety Dean Haynes (ankle) and senior safety D.J. Key (ankle) remain sidelined with various injuries.
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