Sunday afternoon provided plenty of reason for DSU fans to be optimistic as the Statesmen looked strong in a 75-play scrimmage, which was their second scrimmage of the year.
“I think we’re getting closer to where we want to be,” Delta State head football coach Todd Cooley said. “I felt like in the first scrimmage we weren’t as sharp as were in the second scrimmage. I felt like we had three really good days of practice and prep last week leading up to that scrimmage even though school started. I thought we were crisp on Sunday.”
DSU quarterback Tyler Sullivan had a monster day on Sunday by completing 21-of-23 passes for 196 yards with two touchdown. Casey Osborne led all DSU receivers with five catches for 77 yards, followed by Patrick Bethley with four catches for 50 yards, Jarvis York with four catches for 34 yards with a touchdown and Collin Floyd with four catches for 29 yards.
The Statesmen also got some great play on defense. Jon Knox recorded three pass break-ups, Trent Dunne collected two sacks and Wilson Curtis recorded seven tackles.
“I thought our ones defense looked very good, and I thought our ones offense looked very good,” Cooley said. “That’s what you want at this point in time. Now what we’ve got to do is continue to improve as we get into game preparations for Fort Valley State.”
Cooley was particularly pleased with the big men up front on the line.
“I felt like the 1-offensive line did some really nice things,” Cooley said. “I feel like Mose Countryman gets better every time he goes out there. He is a real conscientious guy and really works hard. He’s our starting left tackle right now. It’s just starting to come together. We just can’t take a step backwards right now. We’ve got to continue to go forward.”
One local standout that made an impression on defense was junior and former Shaw standout C.J. Shepherd. Shepherd, a transfer from East Mississippi Community College, intercepted a pass on the first team defense and returned it 10 yards.
“I thought C.J. Shepherd showed up and made a couple of plays,” Cooley said. “He had a big interception.”
Cooley said there were a couple of other players he was impressed with on defense.
“I felt like Richard Nash played pretty solid,” Cooley said. “I thought he made a couple of good tackles in open field. I think Rory Island continues to get better. I think our defensive line has improved overall. They did a good job of getting pressure and creating some sacks.”
Two local standouts that did some things on offense during the scrimmage where former Cleveland High School standouts Eddie McCadney and Trace Bray. McCadney a junior transfer from Mississippi Delta Community College, scored the lone rushing touchdown of the day, while Bray, a redshirt freshman, rushed for 28 yards on four carries.
“I felt like Eddie played okay,” Cooley said. “We expect a lot more out of him. We didn’t play as well as he could. He had a couple of balls he should have caught, but we’re expecting big things out of him.
“I was pleased with the way Trace came in and ran the ball to close out the scrimmage. He’s a powerful guy, and I felt like he played to his strengths. Hegot north and south and that’s what you want. We expect those guys to keep improving like they’ve been doing.”
DSU will open the year on Sept. 6 when the team travels to Fort Valley, Ga. to play Fort Valley State University.