Running Game Impressive in First Scrimmage of Camp

Running Game Impressive in First Scrimmage of Camp

KINGSTON, R.I. – Playing in sloppy, wet conditions, Rhode Island took the field at Meade Stadium Saturday morning for the first full-speed scrimmage of training camp.

There were decent moments in each phase of the game, with the offense producing four touchdowns and the defense getting two fumble recoveries, one interception and seven sacks. Still, play was a bit messy overall from a technical standpoint, with more than 15 penalties getting called by the officials on hand.

"Today was a good, long go," Rhode Island head coach Jim Fleming said. "We got about 140 total snaps in there, and we got a good look at a number of guys that we have to make tough decisions on.

"The biggest piece that left a sour taste in my mouth was the sloppiness with penalties. You expect that to some degree in the first scrimmage, but we are going to have to do a lot of work to clean it up with those details. We have the nucleus of a very good football team, and now we have to execute with a higher level of precision."

One of the bright spots on the day was the running game, which averaged 5.0 yards per carry on 54 attempts. Sophomore Prince Asiedu-Johnson had 100 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown run, and redshirt junior Zoe Bryant, Jr. added 71 yards on 13 attempts, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge.

"We knew going in we'd probably be a running back by committee, and each guy will have opportunities to do things," Fleming said. "They are all talented. There are things to clean up, but I thought they ran hard and each showed up at times. Prince is hard to get a hold of out in the open, and the big kids – Zoe, Niam Jones and Justice Antrum – they grind their legs pretty hard and can soften the defense. I'm pleased with where we are there."

After allowing a touchdown on the opening drive of the scrimmage, the defensive responded with a forced fumble and recovery, a three-and-out, two drive stops and an interception over the next five possessions. On the day, the defense did not allow a passing play of longer than 23 yards.

"Any time you can keep explosion plays off the board defensively, you give yourself a chance to win," Fleming said. "I was pleased to see that today."

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Offense

  • Redshirt junior running back Zoe Bryant, Jr. opened the game with the first team and had 71 yards on 13 attempts, averaging 5.5 yards per carry. His 1-yard touchdown run came on a strong second-effort carry where the defense appeared to have him stopped before Bryant drove his legs and turned his body across the goal line.
  • Sophomore running back Prince Asiedu-Johnson had exactly 100 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown on which he broke outside to his left and beat the defense down the left sideline. Asiedu-Johnson added three catches for 20 yards in the passing game.
  • Junior running back Naim Jones ran for 24 yards on seven carries. He also showed big-play ability in the passing game, catching three passes for 40 yards. His 23-yard reception was the longest receiving play of the day.
  • Redshirt senior JaJuan Lawson orchestrated a nine-play, 65-yard touchdown drive on the opening drive of the day. He capped it with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Coulter in the corner of the end zone. Lawson was 8-of-15 for 76 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and 24 rushing yards.
  • Redshirt sophomore Vito Priore had a strong showing as well, going 11-for-20 for 99 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He connected with Ed Lee on an 18-yard touchdown strike that came on a third-and-9 situation.
  • Sophomore Isaiah Coulter led the team in both receptions (5) and receiving yards (45). Senior Khayri Denny added four catches for 27 yards.
  • Sophomore C.J. Carrick had a 26-yard field goal and converted both of his extra point attempts. Redshirt sophomore Matt Sawicki had an impressive 42-yard field goal and made his lone extra point.

Defense

  • Junior linebacker Branyan Javier-Castillo was active throughout, tying for team-high honors with seven tackles (six solo), two sacks and one fumble recovery.
  • Senior safety D.J. Stewart and freshman linebacker Chris Arrington each had seven tackles as well. Stewart added a pass break up, while Arrington had a fumble recovery.
  • Junior defensive end L.B. Mack III had 3.0 tackles for loss, including 1.5 sacks. He had five total tackles.
  • Junior defensive tackle Keith Coleman, Jr. – who has shifted from the offensive line – had three tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
  • Linebacker Jalen Williams – a graduate transfer from Pitt – had six tackles, one TFL and an interception that he returned 17 yards.
  • Redshirt sophomore cornerback Kwadir Brown had five tackles, one forced fumble and one pass break up.
  • Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Andre Bibeault had four tackles, including 1.5 sacks.
  • Redshirt freshman cornerback Malik Gavek had six tackles, one pass break up and a half-sack.
  • The defense held the offense to 10-of-29 (34 percent) on third-down attempts.