Lions struggle with fumbles, injuries in Saturday scrimmage

The 2012 UNA Lions football team gave its first public performance of the fall today in a preseason scrimmage game hosted at Braly Stadium.

During the scrimmage, coaches rotated out first-, second- and third-string teams in a series of punts, kickoffs and regular play. The Lions played full-speed, treating the scrimmage as a regular season game.

The scrimmage began with a series of punts and punt returns, followed by kickoffs and kickoff returns, before the offense and defense took to the line of scrimmage.

The offense got off to a shaky start with a fumbled snap on the first play. Throughout the scrimmage, the offense continued to have issues with snaps.

“I think we struggled, but I think it all boiled down to the snaps at center, which we can correct that,” said Head Coach Bobby Wallace.

The Lions’ snapping troubles led to many loose balls and a few quarterback sacks.

“There were a couple of times we put the ball on the ground a little bit too much,” said senior wide receiver Daniel Almon.

On the defensive side, fumbled snaps and loose balls led to missed opportunities, said Defensive Coordinator Chris Willis.

“We’ve got to have ball awareness,” Willis said. “Right now there’s too many balls being thrown up in the air just where we could go get it.”

Willis said he was disappointed that the defense saw no turnovers in today’s game, because turnovers are an important part of the Lions’ defense.

“They put the ball on the ground so many times and we didn’t get any (turnovers),” Willis said.

The lack of turnovers, however, was encouraging from an offensive point of view, Wallace said.

Wallace said he was impressed with starting quarterback Chris Alexander’s composure on the field today.

“I think he had a great week this week in progressing to where we want him to be,” Wallace said.

A handful of player injuries also impacted the teams. Early in the game, play was stopped after senior strong safety Nick Williams went down after a tackle. Williams walked off the field but did not return for the remainder of the scrimmage. Senior wide receiver Chris Simpson was also injured as well as freshman defensive back Jalen Reedus. There is no word yet on what their injuries are or the severity of the injuries.

Willis said the biggest thing the defense needs to work on is getting in better shape. Due to putting some players in for more plays than anticipated because of injuries, Willis said he noticed the team getting tired early.

“I just think we’re not in great shape – we’re in good shape but not in great shape and I think we filtered off towards the end,” Willis said.

As for the players, Almon said they are ready to prove themselves this season despite the team’s poor pre-season ranking.

“We just have to continue to get better each day,” Almon said. “We had a couple players go down today with injuries; we need the new guys to step up and make the plays, and I know they’re capable of doing it.”