Quarterback, Position Battles Continue as Eagles Work Toward Wednesday's Spring Game
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. — The Carson-Newman College football held its final full-contact scrimmage Saturday morning, with multiple big plays on offense and defense on display.
The practice was good preparation for the annual Orange and Blue game, scheduled for Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Spring practice has nearly wrapped for the Eagles and luckily the weather cooperated Saturday. Carson-Newman head coach Ken Sparks is happy with this team, who he feels are more willing to put in the needed work ethic than last year's team.
"We're farther along as far as our effort," Sparks said. "We've got some growing going on with that."
The Eagles suffered their two worst losses in Sparks' 31 years at the helm last season, a 30-7 defeat at the hands of UNC-Pembroke and a 52-14 loss to Lenoir-Rhyne. The Bears had never defeated a Sparks coached C-N team before last year.
"We had an off-year last year with kids doing what they needed to do to get better," Sparks said. "We had a tough group last year to work with. We're excited about this group and their attitude."
Carson-Newman kept 10 players out of Saturday's scrimmage, including wide receivers Christian McFall (Jefferson City, Tenn.) and Patrick Miller (Sevierville, Tenn.) as well as quarterback Philip Juhlin (Maryville, Tenn.). Juhlin is currently in a battle with Toby Slagle (Sharpsburg, Ga.), Jason Brown (Plant City, Fla.) and Johnny Foster (Roebuck, S.C.) to take over the team's vacant starting QB position.
Saturday, Slagle, a redshirt freshman, looked the part for the Eagles, leading multiple scoring drives and delivering accurate passes. Slagle had the wheels as well, taking off on a quarterback keeper for 41 yards and a score.
"Old Toby ran up and down the field pretty good," Sparks said. "He was the most consistent moving the ball. I don't know how well he was reading it. I'm anxious to get my popcorn and go to the movies to see what it looked like."
Brown, who started at wide receiver last season, also took off on a long run in one of his possessions, scoring from 60 yards out.
The defense was not to be outdone, with impressive showings from sophomore linebacker Jarell Emanuel (Kissimmee, Fla.) and freshman Dwayne Troutman (Strawberry Plains, Tenn.). Troutman intercepted a screen pass late in the scrimmage and returned it for a 35-yard touchdown.
"We weren't disguising it as a pass very good and they were reading it and breaking into the throwing lane," Sparks said. "That's inexperience (at quarterback) showing up."
Sophomore kicker Carlos Lopez (Seymour, Tenn.) has returned to the field this spring after back surgery kept him from contributing in 2010. Lopez, along with freshman Curt Duncan (Morristown, Tenn.), was perfect on extra points and field goals during the scrimmage.