ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Bryan Fitzgerald needed a good day Sunday.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior running back, who missed all of last season with a knee injury and three practices last week with a concussion, hadn't yet shown the Mocs' new coaches what he can do.

They got a taste during Sunday's scrimmage at Finley Stadium as Fitzgerald ran hard and ran well, scoring on a 25-yard burst up the middle.

"Today was very important because I know all the coaches have been seeing me banged up, wondering what this guy can do," Fitzgerald said. "That's why I was so eager to get back after I had that concussion (on Tuesday), so I could just get out here and show the coaches what I could do, what kind of weapon they have."

Fitzgerald was stuffed on his first run of the warm afternoon, which had the crowd of about 200 searching for what little shade there was at Finley, but on his second carry he plowed through traffic for 22 yards.

Later in the scrimmage, on first down from the 25-yard line, he broke free for a score. Unofficially (no official stats were kept), Fitzgerald finished with nine carries for 62 yards.

Mocs coach Russ Huesman said he was happy to finally see Fitzgerald on the field in a full-contact situation. However, Huesman said he needs to see it again and again leading up to the Sept. 3 opener against Glenville State.

"He looked good (and) I'm proud of him, but Fitz had better not be high-fiving and jacking around because he's still got a long way to go," Huesman said. "We've got to get him in shape, and he's still got a lot of work to do. He looked like a good back today -- made some nice cuts and ran strong -- so I liked him today."

Fitzgerald was one of several offensive players who had a good scrimmage, though there were some down moments. The offense turned the ball over six times, including five interceptions: two by B.J. Coleman and three by Tony Pastore.

Linebacker Joseph Thornton picked off one of Coleman's passes and returned it 66 yards for the defense's only touchdown. Six turnovers is unacceptable for any team, offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said, especially one whose motto is "protect the football."

"B.J. ... made some knucklehead throws; Tony ... made some knucklehead throws," Satterfield said, "and there's definitely going to be a consequence for doing that."

That means extra running for the entire offense, which will be done at the end of this morning's practice at Scrappy Moore Field.

Coleman is competing with Jare Gault for the starting quarterback job and both had numerous chances to make their case in the controlled scrimmage, which began with several series from the home 20 and also included red zone series and special teams work.

After Thornton's interception, Gault took over and on third down hit a wide-open Blue Cooper down the middle for a 25-yard touchdown.

"I had to make that one -- my grandma could have made that throw," said Gault, whose father and grandfather attended the scrimmage.

Coleman was picked off on his next series by safety Joel Bradford, his roommate and former McCallie teammate. The two interceptions and a throw-away were Coleman's only misses in his first nine attempts.

On his 10th throw he hit Chris Pitchford at the goal line for a 29-yard touchdown. Throw No. 11 was a 3-yard touchdown to fullback Courtland Ellzey.

Unofficially, Coleman was 8-for-11 for 74 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Gault finished 4-for-6 for 67 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

"We're going to make a decision pretty soon, and we're going to base it on a body of work -- this scrimmage included," he said. "Both had some really, really good moments and both had some not-so-good moments."

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT