Quarterback Ben Mauk was dressed and on field throughout the practice, and he did participate in several of the offensive drills running plays. Mauk also acted as more of a coach to UC’s younger crop of quarterbacks, distributing balls and offering tips and advice to his fellow Bearcats. Head coach Brian Kelly told us he kept Mauk out of the full offense and team drills in an effort to get his other quarterbacks used to running the offense. Mauk is still in the process of appealing the NCAA’s ruling of denying him a sixth year of eligibility, and was handing in additional paperwork regarding the matter to the NCAA today.
QB - Ben Mauk
Transfer quarterback Demetrius Jones returned to his first football activity since undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder during last season. Signs of rust could be seen, but Kelly is optimistic Jones will be in fine shape to compete for the starting job.
“We’re experts now at quarterbacks with bad shoulders, so we know it’s a process for our guys,” said Kelly after practice.
Jones Makes The Throw
The only real throwing done by Mauk was done as part of a drill to the running backs core, along with Grutza and Jones.
“John Goebel obviously is a guy that we red shirted because we thought he was a very talented player, and now he gets a chance to play,” said Kelly. “It’ll be an exciting spring for him because he’ll get a lot of carries. I know he’s very anxious to get out here and play.”
John Goebel Cuts
Goebel looked impressive during the full offense vs. defense play, including a good looking cut up the left sideline for a nice chunk of yardage.
Ramsey as well was able to make a couple of impressive runs straight up the middle, including a break for about 15 yards.
Cornerback Brad Jones gave the quarterbacks some trouble, intercepting Grutza and nearly picking off a Jones pass attempt. Strong safety Cedric Tolbert also grabbed an impressive interception off a Collaros toss.
Wide receiver Jared Martin also made an impressive showing, making a great diving catch off a low Jones pass, as well as getting wide open for another reception good for over 10 yards. Martin’s screen to the left from Grutza for nearly 20 yards put defensive coaches in fits.
The defense did have its shining moments, though. Along with the interceptions and near-picks, tight defense at times left Jones, Pike, and Collaros with no one open, forcing throws to receivers who had no chance to make the catch.
Jones’ shoulder looked to be completely healthy at least for one play, as he tossed a bomb down the right sideline that would have gone for 35-plus yards had the receiver been able to grab it.
Aside from the interception, Grutza had a solid day under center for the Bearcats. He looked experienced and calm in the pocket, and delivered a number of passes right on target to, among others, wide receiver Dominick Goodman.
Collaros had a number of both good and bad plays. His interception and a couple of short, incomplete passes left something to be desired, but he was able to make a number of impressive passes over the middle. Adrien Robinson was the recipient of one, good for about 10 to 15 yards.
Pike looked impressive during the offensive and passing drills, but struggled against the Bearcats’ defense. He was nearly picked off by linebacker Ryan Manalac trying to make a throw over the middle, and his longest completion gained only about seven yards, a screen pass to Goodman.
Lining up on the defensive side of the ball for the first time was former tight end Connor Barwin at defensive end. His size, strength, and athleticism should suite him well at the new position, though he did have trouble during a defensive linemen drill concerning footwork. Kelly was happy with how Barwin looked for his first day on the new job, though.
“Well what we were looking for is if he had just the innate inability to put his hand on the ground and not look like a guy that was in a different element, and he looked really comfortable,” said the coach. “That’s a good first impression for us, that he felt comfortable, lined up, and was able to do some things. Now we’ll have to get into you know, how does he handle a 320 pound tackle dry blocking him? Those are the things we’ll have to work towards.”
Barwin Goes To The Air
Barwin’s progress will be just one of the things coach Kelly and the Bearcats will hope to work towards in their 14 remaining practices of the spring. A number of students looked on from the stands as there was football to be seen on campus for the first time in awhile. Just 25 days away from Bearcat Bowl II, football fever is in the UC air.
Here is a photo of the new UC Football's by Wilson being used by the team.