There’s not much good to find in a 62-0 loss.
Former Southern Nash running back and current Elon ball carrier, Tracey Coppedge, found something.
In a monumental loss to North Carolina on Saturday, Coppedge made his college debut with Elon. It was everything he had ever imagined.
“It was the best experience of my life, and I had to take advantage of it,” Coppedge said. “I had a couple ups and downs in the game, but I came to Elon for a reason.”
Coppedge graduated from Southern Nash in June after gaining more than 1,000 all-purpose yards last season and averaging more than a touchdown per game. Coppedge found the end zone 14 times in 2011, and although he didn’t score Saturday, he made plenty of plays.
Coppedge’s first play was a two-yard run, but things didn’t improve much on the ground from there. He finished with just 10 yards on nine carries.
His biggest play came once he found open space – a part of Elon’s offense that drew Coppedge to the FCS school.
Swinging to his left, Coppedge caught a screen pass and 22 yards later, he finally was brought down. The play gave Elon its best chance to score before an interception halted the drive. It also wound up being the longest play from scrimmage for the Phoenix.
“It was like graduation all over again,” Coppedge said of his first big play on a college field. “It was a real accomplishment. I helped my team move the ball down the field and get better field position. ... I feel like I did a real good job, as a freshman anyway.”
Coppedge has been practicing with the first team all training camp after he realized how much faster and smarter the college game can be. Elon actually had players that could keep up with him, Coppedge said with a laugh.
“I had to take notice of it, and it just made me work that much harder,” Coppedge said.
And after Saturday, Elon coach Jason Swepson told him to keep playing – a good sign for the young running back.
“I really don’t expect anything but the best,” Coppedge said. “I work myself just like everybody else has. ... I think I have the No. 1 or No. 2 spot.”
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org