In front of a crowd of nearly 4,000 spectators at Hale Stadium, the offense topped the defense 19-9 in a Tennessee State spring game that featured an air of exuberance and competition.
Defensive coordinator Brandon Fisher held out some of his better players to avoid injuries, but his energy and lighthearted antics kept his unit engaged in the game.
Fisher danced a jig to a tune played by the Aristocrat of Bands. On one occasion, the defense only had nine players on the field. Fisher and secondary coach Richard McNutt ran onto the field to line up with the unit.
Later in the game, the offense appeared to have performed an illegal procedure that the official did not call. McNutt then took it upon himself to take the flag from the head linesman and throw it on the field. The penalty was enforced, and McNutt retrieved the flag and returned it to the flabbergasted official.
It was the only penalty of the day.
“I was just there to gas them up,” Fisher said. “It was stuff I learned from (former Titans defensive coordinator) Gregg Williams. You’re the loudest, most arrogant one out there, and the guys start playing like that. Guys believe in that. They want to hear the confidence, and they start believing they are better than they really are.”
The normally all-business head coach Eddie George favored the jovial approach to the game and was also satisfied that the team’s health remained intact.
“Today was all about letting the guys have fun,” George said after the game. “We got some guys, who didn’t necessarily get a lot of playing time during the course of spring practice, out here and play. We had a very productive spring, I felt like, and for the most part, came away with no major injuries.”
Earlier in the week, George explained that starting quarterback Draylen Ellis would not participate in the spring game for academic reasons.
“When he comes back, he has to continue to show he can be a leader on and off the field by making better decisions,” George said. “That’s a position we’ve got to develop and continue to get better at.”
With Ellis not in action, other Tigers signal callers got opportunities. Deveon Bryant was the starter, and the senior completed four of his seven pass attempts for 69 yards, including a 41-yard completion to Jordan Grant.
Heath Williams Jr., a senior from nearby Clarksville, threw a dazzling 25-yard touchdown pass to Houston transfer Canen Adrian.
Demeatric Creshaw, a Youngstown State transfer, went 5 for 6 for 11 yards, while freshman Ryder Hagan completed two passes on eight attempts for 13 yards.