During some pre-scrimmage kicking drills, he mishandled a punt and had to do 10 penalty push-ups. Moments later, he got a second chance and promptly mishandled a second punt. This one appeared to drift back toward the line of scrimmage upon starting its descent.
“It was real tough to catch those,” Austin Rogers said following the two-hour scrimmage. “They get up there pretty high, and they’re tough to catch when it’s that windy. Especially when the punts don’t have a spiral, the wind catches ‘em and they’ll go anywhere. The ball drifts really bad.”
Wind gusts affected passes almost as much as punts. First-team quarterback Erik Ainge completed just 9 of 26 throws. Jonathan Crompton was 16 of 24 but also had some throws affected by the adverse conditions.
“We still tried to pass it as much as we could,” said Rogers, a 6-2, 185-pounder who paired with Lucas Taylor as the first-team wideouts on Saturday. “It’s good to get a look at the protections and everything. But, like I said, the ball came out of the spiral every now and then, and it was hard to catch.”
Realizing the vertical passing game was out of the question, Vol quarterbacks began dumping the ball off as much as possible.
“We did a lot of shorter passes to try to get the ball to us quick,” Rogers noted, “so there was not that much time to affect the ball in the air.”
Ainge started 0 of 5, including an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Rogers, the intended receiver on the play, briefly got a hand on the ball but lost the battle for possession to cornerback Antonio Gaines.
“It's inevitable sometimes, when the ball gets caught up in the wind and two guys fight over it.,” Rogers said. “But we tried to catch as many balls as we could.”