Defense Dominating in First Scrimmage

To say the offense struggled in the first scrimmage of the spring would be a vast understatement. The defense dominated most of the day forcing a number of three and outs and controlled the day from start to finish. It took the offense three drives to get its opening first down, which was aided on a pass interference penalty.

Quarterback Ryan Gunderson and tight end Jeremy Weldon broke the first down dry spell during the sixth series after they hooked up for a short completion on third and six. The drive soon stalled though as Gunderson’s next two passes fell incomplete amidst running back Yvenson Bernard getting tackled for a one-yard loss by linebacker Keith Ellison in the backfield.

Senior quarterback Derek Anderson retook his spot under center and started to move the offense the next series. He completed back-to-back passes to tight end Joe Newton and wide receiver Kevin Swanigan before his third consecutive completed pass was nullified by a pass interference call on wide receiver Mike Hass.

With first and 25, Anderson continued on his hot streak completing two more pass, the first a four-yarder to Brandon Powers, a red-shirt freshman, and the second, a screen to Dwight Wright for no gain. On third down Anderson had nowhere to throw, so he tucked it and ran, sliding to the ground as the defense flew by.

It wasn’t until the 13th drive overall, Anderson’s seventh, that the offense put points on the board. The key play of the drive was a 55-yard pass from Anderson to Hass on a well thrown ball.

Cornerback Brandon Browner had good coverage on the play, but No. 28 caught the ball and held on. Four plays later Anderson hit his Newton in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown. Place kicker Alexis Serna put the extra point through the uprights. Serna added two field goals during the course of the 90-minute scrimmage, one from 27 yards and the other from 32 yards out.

Two possessions later, with Gunderson at the helm, the offense moved the ball into the red zone, but the unit stalled as Gunderson attempted a handoff that was fumbled. The next play saw defensive end Jeff Van Orsow stop Bernard in the backfield for a loss of two.

On third and 14, the snap was fumbled again and on fourth down Gunderson threw an incomplete pass to Powers. To the offense's credit the referees did miss a defense holding call on fourth down. On the aforementioned possession Browner played with the offense making one catch for 17 yards.

"I don't have any concrete plans for Brandon right now, we are just experimenting this spring," Riley stated. "We are looking for some playmakers at the receiver positions, and that is why you see Browner, (Anthony) Wheat-Brown, and (Charles) Burnley working out in that area; hopefully one or more of those guys can help us throughout spring and possibly in the fall."

Following the offense's modest success, Serna added three more field goals; a 36-yarder from the right hash, a 42-yarder from the middle, and a 42-yarder from the left hash.

Quarterback Colt Charles took control of the offense for one series and led a nice drive inside the five-yard line. Charles looked good; connecting on 3-of-4 passes for 52 yards, including a 33-yarder to wide receiver Brad Ching.

On the day Anderson complete 8-of-19 passes for 117 yards and Gunderson complete 8-of-20 passes for 77 yards. Paul Kirwan got in for a couple of series late in the day and completed 2-of-5 passes for 14 yards.

Bernard led the ground attack with 15 carries for 42 yards. Ryan Cole added 24 yards on 10 carries as Dwight Wright saw 8 early carries go for just 7 yards.

Jake can be reached at

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