COLUMN: Takeaways from Tarleton football scrimmage

STEPHENVILLE (August 20, 2016) — Tarleton State held its first officiated team scrimmage Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Many of the newest Texans were on display, while a returning one may have inched to the front of the pack at a crucial position.

Brad Keith is sports editor and a partner at TheFlashToday.com.
Brad Keith is sports editor and a partner at TheFlashToday.com. He has covered Tarleton football since 2004.

Takeaways from Saturday’s action:

Woerner impresses at quarterback:

Zed Woerner started at quarterback and was immediately impressive with a 60 yard touchdown on a fade down the sideline to Nick Prestwood, who seems to catch everything in his zip code. Woerner then struck big on the same throw to the opposite sideline to Del’Michael High, a transfer from Navarro College. He also sailed a perfect aerial to Tate Whitten, who made the best catch of the day along the sideline through contact.

Head coach Todd Whitten has said publicly it’s an open battle at quarterback between Woerner, the returning starter, Garrett Simpson, a transfer from UTEP, Derek Kiser and Alex Craig. Woerner, Kiser and Craig all saw action last season, none more than Woerner.

Strong, deep at receiver:

All the plays listed above were big as the offense got off to a strong start against the defensive unit, which played better as the day went on. High also took a shovel pass and plowed through would be tacklers for a touchdown. Prestwood’s early TD is no surprise to anyone who has followed preseason camp, as he has performed steadily throughout the opening week. Baxter Kirven got open over the middle and hauled in a catch on the best pass of the day by Kiser. Bubba Tandy played just one series at receiver and later returned one punt against soft coverage, but word is the senior is as healthy as he’s been throughout his Tarleton career. Stephenville product Brice Gunter saw some action but did not look 100 percent on his previously injured knee.

Chase Varnado leading the way:

The best of the Stephenville delegation at Tarleton is Chase Varnado at defensive end. Second on the team in tackles a year ago, Varnado has developed into a leader for the Texans in their transition to their first season under head coach Todd Whitten and staff. There was a stretch of several plays in which the junior from SHS was the best player on the field, including swallowing up a new running back for a loss of yards and, lets just say, authoritatively welcoming him to Tarleton.

Better against the run:

Tarleton can’t get any worse against the run after allowing almost 300 yards per game on the ground last season, and right on cue, they have been decisively better against the rush so far in preseason. Better tackling has been a big reason why, along with the presence of run-plugging linebacker Azizullah Fatita at linebacker. The best thing defensively is there are enough new faces along with the new leadership of coordinator Marcus Patton that everyone seems to have a fresh start attitude. That should be exactly what the doctor ordered on that side of the ball.

Injury News:

There were a few players held out, including running back Jabari Anderson, which is typical. The Texans did have a scary moment when tight end Dalton Vondra, junior from Kennedale, appeared to suffer a knee injury. He was helped from the field by athletic trainers and immediately checked out by a team doctor. More information will be shared when available.

Moving forward:

The Texans are through week one of two as far as true training camp is concerned. They are just 14 days from their tough September 3 opener at McNeese State (La.), reigning champion of the Division I-FCS Southland Conference. Another scrimmage will be held next Saturday.

TheFlashToday.com photos by RUSSELL HUFFMAN:


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