The training staff had their hands full as a number of players sat out practice and worked with trainers and strength coaches on the sidelines. Among those dinged up were Gilbert Harris, Shawn Pack, Brent Bolden and Richard Newman.
The emphasis this morning was on short yardage passing and more scoring zone work. The Cats worked on these situations with both 7-on-7 drills and 11-on-11 action. In 7-on-7 both Nic Costa and Ryan O'Hara threw touchdown passes. Costa floated a perfect ball into the corner of the end zone that dropped into the hands of Ricky Williams. O'Hara threw a very similar ball that hit Biren Ealy a yard deep in the end zone for a 19-yard score. All told Costa was 3-8 for 16 yards, while O'Hara was 5-9 for 39 yards. O'Hara was also able to direct his team to three first downs in short yardage situations.
Although they gave up two scores in the drill, the defense looked good as well. Jason Martin dropped a sure interception in the end zone, but kept the offense from scoring. Marcus Hollingsworth continues to play well. The freshman had two pass deflections. Lamon Means added another.
11-on-11 drills saw the defense a little bit ahead of the offense. The defense never gave up a big play and Martin made up for his earlier drop by picking off an O'Hara pass at the goal line. O'Hara threw the lone touchdown pass. He threw a low ball to Lance Relford that the receiver bobbled but reeled in for a six-yard score.
The end of practice saw the team in a 2:00 drill. The offense started at the 20 and had to go the length of the field with just 2:00. Costa had the reigns of the first offense and did little with the opportunity. He was 2-3, but passed for only seven yards. He did not do a great of job managing the clock and the drive ended with a Darrell Brooks interception.
O'Hara was a little better. O'Hara moved the offense down field but mismanaged the clock at the end. O'Hara completed 3-of-5 passes for 54 yards. His 30 yarder to Syndric Steptoe was a lame duck, but the freshman receiver adjusted and caught the wobble inside the 50. After a pair of incompletions, O'Hara found walk-on Ryan Eidson and spiked the ball to stop the clock around the 25-yard line. O'Hara took a sack on the next play and the offense could not get back to the line as the clock ran out. Unfortunately the offense still had one timeout and would have had at least one shot at the endzone.
"It's (the 2:00 drill) game like in the sense that there is a lot going on and some confusion," Mackovic said. "We had the clock run out on us at the end, that's okay, you have to learn. They have to learn that ‘my highest priority is the clock over everything. Over the plays, over the formations I have to know how much time is left.' I think it is the most life-like of any of the drills we do."
NOTES *Freshman Ismail Garcia has moved from the offensive line to the defensive line in a move to bolster the thin defensive line depth.
"We just need a little help on defense," Mackovic said. "He's a big body so we thought we'd give it a go. He's a great athlete."
*Fellow freshman, Ryan Kilpatrick, has moved from defense to offense. Kilpatrick switches from OLB to TE in a move that is more beneficial to the future of the team.
"We think we can build him up and he can be a good H-back type for us," Mackovic noted. "He's a real good athlete and will have good hands. He won't be ready to play this year probably, but in another year he'll be ready to do some things."
*Kirk Johnson had the most serious injury of any player dinged up on Saturday night. Johnson hurt his knee and is expected to miss a few days. It is believed to be just a mild sprain, but the team doctors will keep an eye on it.
*Cliff Stanford showed up late and had to do some extra conditioning as punishment. It is not known if he overslept or missed a ride to McKale.
*Tanner Bell is doing better but he'll miss at least two weeks, probably more. *John Abramo was back out on the field. He missed some time with an ankle injury. He's expected to give the Wildcats some line depth.
*Phil Clark has not returned to action after suffering a concussion last week.
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