Travis Daniels, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s senior tailback, is doing everything in his power to ensure the Braves head back to the playoffs after sub-par results last season.
“I know I’ll have to put in the work and produce,” Daniels said. “Having a new quarterback back there isn’t affecting us much. I’m just focusing on limiting my mistakes and leading this team.”
UNCP coach Pete Shinnick peeked at the spring game stat sheet shortly after the offense outscored the defense 42-33 in Tuesday’s fifth annual scrimmage and Daniels’ numbers jumped off the page - 65 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
“We’re going to need that kind of effort from him,” Shinnick said. “Like I’ve said before, we need him to go back to 2009 Travis.”
Daniels’ rushing numbers dipped last season after he totaled 1,042 yards as a sophomore.
He was in top form in the Braves’ final scrimmage Tuesday, shaking tacklers at the line scrimmage on each carry and making cuts that mirrored the Daniels that helped UNCP to a 9-2 record in 2009.
His backfield sidekick, quarterback Luke Charles, appeared to separate himself from Western Carolina transfer Jonathan Efird according to Shinnick, completing 14-of-20 passes for 151 yards.
Charles threw the game’s only touchdown pass just before halftime - a 40-yard strike on a slant-and-go to Donald Britt. Britt was wide-open behind coverage in the secondary and hauled in the pass in stride at the 30-yard line.
“Luke played very well and was in control of the offense,” Shinnick said. “He kind of played how I expected him to play. He’s been solid all spring.”
Efird started the first series for the Braves, a drive that stalled on fourth down. Efird showed more mobility than Charles out of the pocket, but had limited success through the air, finishing with 41 yards and an under-thrown interception to T.J. Jenkins.
“Jonathan was the benefactor of a lot of bad plays from people around him,” Shinnick said. “He kind of came off the field disappointed. It wasn’t all his fault. I told him he’d get another shot at this.”
Shinnick was impressed with Teland Todd, UNCP’s third-string quarterback. Todd led a scoring drive in the fourth quarter and sprinted 33 yards down the right sideline for a first down on his first play from scrimmage in the second quarter. The sophomore gained 93 total yards of offense.
“That’s the most consistent Teland has played this spring,” Shinnick said. “I was happy to see that.”
A bright spot not in the boxscore?
The past two seasons, the spring game has been played in cold, wet conditions.
“I thought we got to run a lot of plays and nobody got hurt so that’s always positive,” Shinnick said. “The weather was nice and it’s pretty neat to play under the lights. We had a good crowd and we’re thankful to be a part of Chancellor’s Week here (on campus).”
Richardson satisfied with defense
The offense may have scored more points in the scrimmage, but the defense looked like the more focused and competitive unit from start to finish.
Redshirt freshman Caderreus Mason registered a game-high seven tackles, followed by a five-tackle, two-sack performance from Josh Barbour. The defense recovered two fumbles, including a recovery from former Purnell Swett linebacker and potential starter, Justin Bullard.
“I didn’t expect our guys to look that fast tonight,” defensive coordinator Shane Richardson said. “We have a lot of new guys so we tried to simplify things a bit. That probably has a lot to do with why we were successful.”
Richardson was happy with his unit’s pass defense. The secondary’s only mistake was Britt’s 40-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
“We’re going to try and limit the big plays and have a bend but don’t break mentality this season,” Richardson said. “DeVante Bush has had a great spring. (Justin) Bullard and James Robinson have too. Those guys will definitely see a lot of snaps this fall.”
UNCP will engage in the final session of an NCAA-allotted 15 spring practices on Thursday afternoon.
n Staff writer Brad Crawford can be reached at (910) 272-6111 or email@example.com