Cook pleases with Pios effort in scrimmage

LAFAYETTE – It didn’t last very long, but for Lewis Cook and his Notre Dame Pioneers, Thursday’s 12-play scrimmage at St. Thomas More was enough to give the long-time coach a good idea of where his team stands after two weeks of practice.

“Overall, I liked what I saw,” said Cook. “We’ve got a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. But I still think we’ve got a chance because we’re not going to play too many teams that are going to be a lot better than these guys are.”

St. Thomas More, which advanced all the way to the Class 5A semifinals last year before falling to eventual champion Acadiana, made it difficult for the Pios to move the chains in their first and only offensive series with the first teamers.

On their first set of downs in the 12-play series, the Pios completed one pass for five yards but then got stuffed for no gain on the next play. A high snap over the head of quarterback Waylon Young ended the series.

The Pios didn’t fair much better on the second series.

After a short gain by Nick Gossen, another high snap put the Pios in a third-and-long situation. Young completed a pass over the middle to Josef Schmid on third down, but it was well short of the first down marker.

“It’s hard in 12 plays unless you get a big play to maybe drive and score,” said Cook. “And I have the plays scripted because I want to look at certain things and you might run something that’s going to slow your drive down. But we have to run it and get it on film.”

The Pios went three (plays) and out on the next series and an interception on the ensuing play ended another drive.

Notre Dame finally pieced together a drive on its final series when Austin Thibodeaux broke loose for an 11-yard scamper on the first play. Young then hit Nick Benoit on a 5-yard pass play before another short run gave the Pios their second first down.

However, the Pios were hit for a loss on the next play to end their offensive series.

“You know, I’m not that concerned if we score two or three times,” said Cook. “We got a couple of first downs. You like to see if you can put two or three first downs together and we did that one time there at the end.”

Defensively, the Pios held their own for the better part of St. Thomas More’s 12-play series.

The Cougars connected on a 13-yard pass play to start their series and then broke free on a 5-yard run. However, a holding penalty negated a big pass play before a short run and an incompletion ended the drive.

St. Thomas More started its second drive with a 15-yard run before a 3-yard run and an offsides on the Pios moved the ball into Notre Dame territory.

A quarterback keeper for six yards gave STM another first down before back-to-back short passes set the Cougars up at the ND 23 yard line. On the very next play, the Cougars went to the air again and struck for a 23-yard scoring strike for the only touchdown of the scrimmage.

“Defensively, we had a couple plays in there,” said Cook. “But they (STM) didn’t just take it and knock us around.

“You know, we were overmatched, but I like playing somebody that at this point is better than us. I want our guys knowing that we’ve got to work.

“You get humbled a little bit, which is not all bad, because they (players) think that they should come down here and play even with these guys and that’s just not going to happen.”

Cook said he was pleased with the practice session that took place before the scrimmage. That session included numerous team drills including a 7-on-7 pass scale, an inside run drill and a special team’s drill.

“That helps a lot,” said Cook of the first portion of the workout. “You get to run a lot of plays that you aren’t going to run in the scrimmage.

“Now we film to go back and look at our inside run game, check our routes and see if we throw on time, if our guy got in the right place, broke their routes off at the right time.

“By doing those drills, that gives you the opportunity to do that so that’s a plus. You don’t get that unless you’re doing it against some quality competition and that’s what we were able to do today.”

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