The big star of the scrimmage was converted linebacker Sean Jones. The former full back had 10 tackles, three deflected passes and one tackle for loss. Jones, who had to beg the coaches to play defense, was all over the field and has shown a propensity for the big hit.
“I love it,” Jones said of his new position. “I should have been playing here since I’ve been here.”
Jones wasn’t the only new face to have a big day. Redshirt freshman defensive end Lionel Dotson had three sacks and a number of quarterback pressures. Dotson played with the second unit and terrorized a second-team defensive line that is clearly short handed. Dotson used his quickness and strength to out play the tackles he was lined up against and found it easy to get to the quarterback.
The offense just didn’t appear to be in synch, but did manage a few nice drives. Penalties, sacks and dropped passes killed what little momentum the offense could generate.
"The dropped balls, penalties and turnovers really hurt us, and it is frustrating to see that we are keeping ourselves from moving the ball on offense,” Stoops said. “We definitely need better execution in some critical areas, and we have to continue to improve."
Offensive coordinator Mike Canales has said that a No. 1 quarterback will be named early next week, but who that player will be is still a bit of a mystery. No signal caller really jumped out as being that much better than any of the others.
Freshman Richard Kovalcheck had the highest completion percentage, but really did not do a whole lot to move the team. He was the only passer to complete over half his passes. He was a solid 7-12, but only threw for 41 yards. He never stretched the field, his longest completion was a dump-off to Mike Bell in which the running back made a great move to juke a defender to pick up the yardage.
Last year’s surprise starter, true freshman Kris Heavner only moved the team on one of his four drives. Heavner’s first drive saw a 21-yard completion wiped out by a holding penalty and the rest of the drive was all runs by Bell and Gilbert Harris. His next two drives were three and outs.
Heavner’s final drive saw the team drive down to the 15-yard line, but misfired on a fourth and long when Luis Nunez came off the edge on a cornerback blitz and would have blindsided Heavner has there been any contact.
All told Heavner was 6-11 for just 46 yards.
Only one quarterback was consistently given the chance to stretch the field. Nic Costa got to show off his cannon arm on a few occasions. He went deep on two occasions, one of which looked to be defensive holding but was not called.
Costa was also allowed to use his legs. The Wildcats ran a few bootlegs and option with the speedy quarterback. Costa rushed for 35 yards on five carries and actually should have gone for more. On a fourth and one Costa faked a handoff to the middle and sprinted around the end. Costa beat the corner to the sideline and headed upfield. A diving Kiel McDonald barely got a hand on Costa and the refs blew it dead. Had it been a real game the junior would probably gone for a touchdown.
Costa got the most snaps on the day, 40 in all. His last drive was a 17-play drive that went deep into the defensive end of the field, but ended on a Marcus Smith sack. Costa was 8-18 for 59 yards, but threw the day’s only interception.
Ryan O’Hara was once again plagued with poor execution but showed that he could convert in pressure situations. O’Hara was sacked three times and had a trio of passes dropped, including one that would have extended his final drive.
Twice on fourth and long the lanky passer made big plays. On fourth and 11 he found walk-on Jerome Parker for a 12-yard gain, then on fourth and 19 he hit Juan Valentine for a 25-yard gain and a second first down. He was 4-11 for 46 yards for the scrimmage.
The running game was solid. Bell again looked like the team’s best offensive weapon. He picked up 34 yards on eight carries and caught four passes for 23 yards. Gilbert Harris rushed for 36 yards on eleven carried, including eight carries and a catch on the final 17-play drive.
In special teams action before the start of the scrimmage Nick Folk made 6-of-8 field goal attempts (30, 34, 36, 39, 42, 45). His two misses came from 27 yards and 42 yards.
Danny Baugher punted five times under a heavy rush and managed a 41.0 yards-per-punt average despite his first kick going for just 26 yards. One of his punts was blocked by Valentine.
In fact, Valentine had a very nice day. The senior wide receiver had 53 yards receiving on just four catches.
The team will take the rest of the weekend off and resume practice on Tuesday of next week.