October 1, 2007

Hargrave takes a trip to Neyland

After a Sunday game against Salisbury University, Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military Academy didn't get much of a chance to regroup. The Bulldogs traveled to Knoxville, Tenn. Thursday to face the University of Tennessee junior varsity for Tennessee's first JV contest in fifteen years.

For Tennessee, the game served as an opportunity to get 27 of Rivals.com's top 50 prep school players on its campus. For the Hargrave players, it was an opportunity to play in Neyland Stadium on a Thursday night. But it also became a bit of a learning experience as Tennessee dominated the evening on several levels and claimed a 37-20 win.

Passing the look test:

Before the game, there was no doubt that Hargrave Military academy looked the part. However, there were a few players that really stuck out.

  • Despite being listed on the roster as 6-5, wide receiver DeAngelo Benton was closer to 6-2/6-2.5.
  • Dwight Jones looked to be about 6-4 with his 210 pounds well-distributed.
  • Kyle Linney and Kerry Murphy, both interior line prospects were two of the biggest players on the field and both moved well for their size.

    On the defensive:

    The game started out well for Hargrave. On Tennessee's first offensive play, with the Vols backed deep into their own territory following a downed punt, Quillie Odom sliced into the backfield and caused a fumble by Tennessee quarterback Nick Stephens. Zach Brown recovered the ball in the end zone to give Hargrave an early 7-0 lead.

    Odom and Brown ended up being the two standouts on the day for Hargrave at linebacker. Both players were dangerous on the blitz and showed good speed in pursuit. However, along with the rest of the Hargrave team they had trouble shedding blocks by the strong Tennessee offensive line.

  • Though he was one of the only true seniors on the field on Thursday night, Quinton Coples looked like one of the better defenders at times for Hargrave Military Academy. The 2008 prospect showed good athleticism as a pass rusher and pressured the Tennessee quarterbacks multiple times.

  • Josh Pleasant made several plays from the secondary for Hargrave. The corner had two interceptions, one of which was called back on a penalty. He also had a nice punt return and played with a high intensity level all night. He did get beat on one deep ball for a touchdown but he was in good position and slightly misplayed the ball. He spoke briefly with the Tennessee coaches after the game and was definitely playing like his night was a scholarship showcase.

    Offensive woes

    Despite an array of talented receivers on the Hargrave team, quarterback Cannon Smith struggled to get his athletes the ball. He made some poor decisions throwing the ball up for grabs or into triple coverage on a couple instances and his accuracy was spotty.
    To Smith's credit, he was running for his life for much of the night. Tennessee, led by freshman Ben Martin's dominating evening, was much too strong for Hargrave to handle up front. Smith was forced out of the pocket on numerous occasions and struggled to find his weapons on the run.

  • Despite Smith's struggles, DeAngelo Benton looked the part at wide receiver. He ran crisp routes and caught the ball well when he had opportunities. Though he wasn't able to spring free for any big plays he showed a knack for finding soft spots in coverage and was effortless in catching the ball.

  • Dwight Jones was never able to make an impact on the night. He was targeted about four times over the course of the evening but the ball was never put anywhere where he was able to make a play on it. However, one player who was able to make a couple plays was Virginia Tech commit Kendrick Pressley. The 5-foot-10 athlete out of Sumpter, S.C. made the catch of the night on a nice 25-yard pass in the end zone from Smith. He showed the athleticism to impact a game on either side of the ball.

  • Hargrave was without running back Enrique Davis who was out with an ankle injury. It was the second consecutive game Davis had missed. The running game struggled in turn. But once again, all the blame can't go to the backs as the Tennessee defensive front was moving Hargrave backwards throughout the night.

  • Kerry Murphy anchored an offensive line that struggled all night against Tennessee. Playing at left tackle for much of the night, Murphy had the unenviable task of dealing with UT's Ben Martin. Murphy looked a little out of place at left tackle and his struggles were magnified by Martin's evening. None of the linemen played particularly well up front but Murphy did look a little more comfortable when he had some limited snaps at defensive tackle.

    Tennessee standouts

    Again, Ben Martin was the star of the night. He played at a different speed and level of physicality than everyone else on the field. If he wasn't chasing down a play from behind, he was driving his blocker backwards and disrupting the backfield. It looks like the Volunteers are going to have a good one in him.

    Two other players that played well for the Volunteers were two safeties, freshman Dennis Rogan and sophomore walk-on Derrick Furlow. Rogan showcased his skills on kick returns and an interception return in while Furlow did a little bit of everything, intercepting passes and making big hits in the run game.

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