While many in the Chattanooga area enjoyed a leisurely summer Saturday, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team put in another day's work, holding the first scrimmage of preseason camp.
The Mocs' first-team offense looked sharp on the opening series, which was capped by Jacob Huesman's 31-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Borishade.
It wasn't the last time in the afternoon for Borishade to prove why coaches expect him to become a big-play threat this season. The sophomore receiver finished the day with five catches for 95 yards, including turning a short catch into a 37-yard gain by flashing some speed, splitting the secondary before being taken down inside the 10.
"I'm trying to help out the team as much as I can, and today I felt like I took a big step," Borishade said. "I had to come out today and prove that I'm able to be consistent. I've had a good last few days at camp, and I think that carried over into today.
"The coaches are looking more to me to be responsible to be that guy who can make big plays. We have other guys, but I want to join that group and be another weapon."
Four of Borishade's five catches went for first downs, including a 24-yarder that converted a fourth down, and he was open for what could have been a second TD catch but was overthrown.
"He had some nice plays last year as a true freshman, and he's grown up a lot in six, seven months," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "He's a way more mature player and person now. Six months ago he was like my 10-year old, having to discipline him all the time. But he's grown up and he'll be an exciting player for us."
Jacob Huesman finished 9-of-16 for 105 yards, one touchdown and an interception and ran eight times for 39 yards. Alejandro Bennifield took the first snaps with the second team and finished the day 6-of-14 for 92 yards, including a 46-yard pass to Alphonso Stewart that set up a 6-yard scoring run by Derrick Craine. Tyler Roberson was 3-of-6 passing for 40 yards.
Defensively, All-America end Davis Tull was dressed but did not play as a precaution. As coaches evaluate players for rotation purposes, Tull is one who doesn't need to prove anything. In his place, Keionta Davis picked up where he left off after a strong spring with 3.5 tackles for loss Saturday, and freshman defensive backs Tae Davis and Austin Hall made interceptions.
"I thought we got a lot done today," Coach Huesman said. "I was actually really pleased with the execution. It wasn't great, but I was pleased with how we ran our offense and defense and the communication. I was really excited with what I saw today."
Special highs, lows
Kickers Henrique Ribeiro and Nick Pollard continued what has been a consistent preseason camp for both. Ribeiro drilled a 54-yard field goal, with room to spare, and Pollard had a 38-yarder.
Long-snapper Emory Norred had two bad snaps early that cost the kickers chances at converting scoring chances. But after chewing out the true freshman from Baylor, Coach Huesman took the blame after the scrimmage.
"That's my fault. I'm going to take that one," Huesman said. "I'm special teams illiterate, and I just took it for granted that he had been warming up on the sideline. I asked him if he had and he said, 'No. Was I supposed to?'
"So I got on him for that, but after I thought about it for a few minutes I thought, 'What an idiot I am.' The guy's a true freshman. That was his first live action, sprinting and moving. He doesn't know to do that and we didn't coach him to do it yet, so I'm taking the heat for that one.
"Even though I yelled I probably shouldn't have, but, hey, I yell at just about everybody."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...