The opening intrasquad scrimmage a week ago for the Govs was won by the defense. But with several spots on the offensive side of the ball up for grabs, there were more stand-outs on Friday.
With one week remaining until the season kicks off on Aug. 30 at Memphis, the hour long 11-on-11 session would be the final day of fall camp before entering gameplan preparations on Monday. The primary focus was on the quarterback position with a starter still to be determined as the competition had picked up between three names.
In the end, head coach Kirby Cannon said it will be redshirt junior Trey Taylor under center against the Tigers.
Taylor, who grew up just outside of Memphis in Cordova, outplayed the other two candidates — Darrien Boone and Mickey Macius — on Friday by going 6-for-7 on passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. The lefty held the edge going into fall camp after a strong performance in the spring game, but Boone and Macius emerged late in camp to make it a close race. However, at this point, Cannon believes Taylor is right man for the job.
“I’m proud of the performance of the offense today,” Taylor said. “I’m just going to be a leader. Whatever coach tells me, I’m going to do it.”
Cannon said Boone will also get some playing time as a guy who can scramble to make plays on the run. For Macius, it’s uncertain where the freshman fits in, but could receive reps as well. If not, Cannon stated it could be a situation where he is redshirted, depending on how things go early on.
It took one series from the offense to find its rhythm, but once it did, it was off to the races as Taylor took over. The second pass thrown by Taylor featured an impressive one-handed grab down the sideline to Malik Boynton, resulting in a gain of 21 yards. The drive would end after six plays as Taylor hit senior Javier Booker for a 15-yard score.
The talk of fall camp has been the receiving core, primarily the incoming freshmen. Boynton, along with Wesley Thomas and Jared Beard, have all been trending upward on the depth chart as a group of receivers with more potential than possibly any group in school history.
“Beard, Boynton, Thomas, and (LaRon) Golden, when healthy, are outstanding players, and they’re tough enough to be able to do it as freshmen,” Cannon said. “A premier wideout thinks he’s ready for everything, and those guys have that attitude.”
Boynton led all receivers with two catches for 36 yards, while Thomas and Beard both had big plays resulting in 22 and 18 yards, respectively.
Boone got his first action in the third offensive possession, and led solid eight-play drive that was capped off with a one-yard run by Rashaan Coleman. Boone finished 3-for-6 for 55 yards after two series. Taylor led the next touchdown drive after a short halftime break, driving into the redzone, then handing off to Julian Franklin who burst up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown.
The final series was led by redshirt sophomore Timarious Mitchell, who went 4-for-4 on the drive for 39 yards, including a short touchdown pass to Jacob Sexton. Macius finished the day 4-for-7 with an interception hauled in by senior linebacker Adam Noble, who Cannon said has won a job back.
Overall, Cannon likes the direction the offense is going, but the defense still needs to gain some depth. Those kinks will try to be worked out before traveling to the Liberty Bowl next Saturday.
Photo: Trey Taylor (#8) prepares to take a snap in the spring game (The All State)