It was not your standard scrimmage. The team did not run consecutive plays, moving up and down the field. Instead, the Cats alternated between full team work and 7-on-7 drills. The coaches dictated the situations all night, and made sure the team faced every situation the coaches wanted to see.
A major reason for the unorthodox scrimmage was due to the large amount of dinged up players. The Wildcats held nearly 20 players out of the scrimmage hoping to have them healthy in time for UTEP.
"We didn't have enough guys," Mackovic said. "We didn't have enough linemen really, and backs to be able to go for a full scrimmage. What we did was simulate numbers of reps like they were playing a real game. Each unit got the equivalent of a real game, maybe more.
"We expect just about everybody to be ready next week who can be ready," Mackovic continued. "Of course that's good news to start the season after what we went through last season."
Many observers wonder why the team has so many hurt players, but it seems like it is a common thing in college football right now. Mackovic compared his team's situation to that of an elite school.
"(Strength coach) Brad Arnett talked to the strength coach at Miami and they have 30 guys out. We have 20 guys out of practice. So it is true everywhere in college football, you've got nicks and bumps and bruises." The offense played well, but it was the defensive backs who stole the show. Wildcat DB's picked off three passes and continued to show that they are a strength of the team.
Zeonte Sherman had the first pick. On third and long Ryan O'Hara heaved a long bomb that Sherman ran under and caught at the five-yard line. It was essentially a glorified punt, but Sherman showed a nice ability to find the ball.
For the night O'Hara was 3-5 for 34 yards in the 11-on-11 drills.
The other picks came against Nic Costa. The first pick came when Costa saw Steve Fleming sneak behind the coverage, but his pass hung up a little to long and Lamon Means stole the pass from the tight end.
Marcus Hollingsworth ended practice with the third and final pick. Hollingsworth snagged a Costa pass and returned it for a long touchdown.
"I really liked ending on that play," Mackovic said. "We weren't trying to score. We didn't say that we were going to do it until they score, but I think that was a great boost and a great example of how the defense just hangs on and hangs on and they get down to the end and make a big play. Boy, the whole sideline was jacked up and ready to go."
Costa struggled on 11-on-11 drills, going just 1-5, but was impressive in the scoring zone in 7-on-7 drills. The offense picked up where they left off the night before. Costa hit Fleming on a pair of tough td passes and finished off by threading a slant pass to Syndric Steptoe in the endzone. O'Hara was solid as well. He threw a perfect pass to the corner to Ben di Grazia and later connected on a 60-yard strike to Michael Jefferson that came up a few yards short of a score.
*Clarence Farmer played quite a bit and Mackovic was pleased with how his knee responded.
*Friday's practice is the last practice open to the public. The Cats will have Saturday and Sunday off before closed practices start on Monday.
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