Despite the fact that the Miners head to town in less than two weeks, the Cats have done very little in the way of preparing for the home opener. Instead of spending a lot of time early on against UTEP, the team is instead making sure they know what they need to do themselves.
"We know what UTEP does, and we're doing that little by little," Mackovic said. "But, our team has to get ready to play on a one-week's notice. So if we put two weeks on an opponent and our team feels really great about two weeks, then all the sudden we give them one week and they feel rushed."
The Cats switched things up. Instead of their normal 7-on-7 drills, the team went out with 11-on-11 but used a limited pass rush. With full lines, the Cats rushed just two to give some token pressure on the quarterbacks.
"We combined out pass rush with our 7-on-7 to give the quarterbacks a little bit more feel on pocket awareness and also to give our guys more work on the pass rush," Mackovic noted. "I like that drill. We're going to do it a few more times and we'll do it during the year." In the drill, Ryan O'Hara was 2-6 for 45 yards. Two of his incompletions were tough passes that could have been caught. Nic Costa was 4-8 for 40 yards. He had one pass picked off by Lamon Means but a pass interference penalty nullified the interception.
The team then switched to full bore 11-on-11 drills. This time O'Hara was 4-8 for 35 yards. Surprisingly he had two passes batted at the line and a slant pass was intercepted by Luis Nunez, in part because the receiver was not ready for the pass. Costa was 4-6 for 23 yards.
Biren Ealy continues to be the go-to guy. For the night he had four catches for 75 yards. He has shown rapid improvement since the start of the fall. His hands have become more sure and he's adjusting to poorly thrown balls like a seasoned vet.
NOTES *Clarence Farmer is nursing a sore knee after the scrimmage and may miss the scrimmage on Thursday.
"Clarence's knee is bothering him and he will miss tomorrow," Mackovic said. "I don't know if he'll scrimmage on Thursday. That's tough because the running backs need time. One of the things that set us back last year with him was we held him out of all our scrimmages and he wasn't ready to play the beginning of the year. It took him 2-3 weeks to even get his timing and by then he was hurt. I hate for that, especially for a runner, a runner has to get in there and ball handle and everything."
*Steptoe felt lightheaded and went down during drills. Team trainers checked him out and will run some tests to make sure everything is fine. Mackovic believes it was just a case of fatigue, but the team will be cautious.
*Matt Padron returned to contact after donning a yellow "no-contact" jersey this morning. He was icing his neck during rest periods, but missed no reps.
*John Abramo was held out of the end of practice, icing his ankle. Abramo returned to action this morning and will be brought along slowly.
"He'll be in and out here," Mackovic said.
*Phil Clark is still suffering from the effects of a concussion and his return is not known. He is still getting headaches and the team won't rush anything.
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