RUSTON – Louisiana Tech’s defense started strong in the first scrimmage of spring practices on Saturday.
Cornerback Weldon Brown intercepted a Ross Jenkins pass on the first play of the day. From there the offense got back on track and both sides had a solid scrimmage.
“Like any first scrimmage, there were some great individual performances and then the realization as to where you need to be as a team,” said head coach Derek Dooley. “Offensively, you’re wanting to try and sustain drives. Defensively, you’re trying to stop drives.”
Jenkins and Steven Ensminger both had strong performances at quarterback for the Bulldogs. Jenkins completed 14-of-27 passes for 181 yards and two scores. He also ran for two touchdowns of nine and 13 yards. Ensminger completed 8-of-19 passes for 88 yards a score and an interception.
“Overall, I thought things went well today,” Dooley said. “I was pleased with the play of Ross Jenkins at quarterback. He’s got a good command of our offense and he made some good decisions. Steven did some nice things, but not quite at the tempo level of Ross. I thought both quarterbacks are progressing nicely.”
Defensively the secondary shined with three starters returning. Brown led the way with 3.5 tackles. Antonio Baker added three, and Deon Young had 2.5. Tarence Calais also added an interception late in the scrimmage.
With a number of young players on the defensive line many players had the chance to step up during the spring’s first scrimmage. D’Anthony Smith, the only returning starter up front, played well leading the team with 3.5 tackles and being a force against the run.
Newcomers Eric Harper and Kwame Jordan each made their presence felt with sacks, and Randy Grigsby’s only two tackles were both solo sacks.
With running back Patrick Jackson not participating in spring drills, Dooley has said it will give all the backs a chance to contribute and improve. Myke Compton led all the running backs with six carries and 37 yards. Twenty six of his yards came after breaking a tackle behind the line of scrimmage and finding the endzone.
Daniel Porter had 10 yards on four carries, and redshirt freshman Allen Gilbert had six carries for 11 yards. Tight end Dennis Morris was used during a goal line situation period and had two touchdowns.
The backs also shined out of the back field receiving. Porter and Compton each pulled in three catches for 34 and 26 yards respectively. Porter had a 13-yard touchdown reception from Jenkins.
Adrian Linwood led the team with 47 yards receiving on two catches. He scored on a 39-yard strike from Ensminger. Philip Beck had 46 yards on two receptions. Early Griffin’s only catch was a 31-yard touchdown from Jenkins.
On special teams field goal kicker Brad Oestricher showed a strong and accurate leg after redshirting this past season. He made both field goal attempts of 49 and 42 yards and was perfect on extra points.
The team will return to practice Monday to continue working toward the finale of spring workouts at the annual spring game on T-Day at 1 p.m. April 12. Between now and then Dooley said the Bulldogs have to keep striving to not tire in the end and improving every day.
“Once you start adding on game type situations as in a scrimmage, you find that mental toughness and fatigue become issues,” Dooley said. “We still have work to do with the fatigue factor and being tougher mentally.”