Anderson Shines in Saturday Scrimmage

Rainfall came, went, and came again Saturday morning throughout the Bearcat's spring football practice. The sun showed itself momentarily at times, but nothing shined brighter today than one of Cincinnati's aspiring starting quarterbacks, Chazz Anderson.

Anderson along with fellow quarterback Demetrius Jones wore white jerseys Saturday as opposed to the traditional red jerseys worn by most quarterbacks during the spring.  Head coach Brian Kelly called for the switch in order to see how his defense would defend the pair, as well as see the quarterbacks perform under the pressure of being hit.  The pass-heavy scrimmage would allow for the defense to play the pass and the quarterbacks to show what they can do.


“We needed to see those two kids (Anderson and Jones) against our defense.  In particular as you saw, we made two or three plays outside the realm of our offense, and I think defensively you’ve got to be able to defend it all,” said Kelly.  “If you have a quarterback that’s elusive, and those two kids are, we wanted to challenge our defense, and give them (Anderson and Jones) the opportunity to show what they really can do.  I think you obviously limit what you can do when you put a red jersey on them.”


“We wanted Chazz and Demetrius to get a lot of first team reps today,” added Kelly.


Anderson shined during the live scrimmage situations, completing all 12 of his pass attempts for 103 yards and four touchdowns.  He also ran for 47 yards on three carries, including a 41-yard speed burst through a seam on second down and three before being brought down by Mike Mickens at the seven yard line.


“It was just a great block, it was blocked very, very well, and I saw the seam and I tried to just run as fast as I could,” said Anderson of the play afterwards.  “Once I saw (Mickens) coming I was like, ‘Man I just better not fumble the ball.’”


Anderson would soon impress onlookers for a second time.  On a first down play from the defense’s 30 yard line, Anderson dropped back, faked a hand off and began rolling out to the right.  A Bearcat defensive lineman got his hands on Anderson, but the 6’-0”, 205 lb. quarterback spun to avoid the hit and threw the defender to the ground.  A 23-yard pass to an open Charley Howard ensued.  One play later, Howard grabbed an Anderson lob for the touchdown along the left sideline of the end zone.


Howard finished the scrimmaging with three receptions for 34 yards and one touchdown.


Coach Kelly was fairly impressed with Anderson’s play throughout the day, as well.


“I thought Chazz moved our offense pretty good, I’ll have to watch the film, but he’s athletic, made some plays.  He’s what I’ve been saying over the last couple of weeks, he’s competing for a starting position,” said the coach of his red shirt freshman quarterback.


After Anderson, Jones did see the most scrimmage action of UC’s crop of quarterbacks.  Unfortunately, it was action Jones will likely like to soon forget.  The sophomore transfer finished the day one for four passing for seven yards, along with four rushes for 11 yards.   The defense stripped the ball out of Jones’ hands twice as well, and Brad Jones and Nick DeFillipo recovered the fumbles.


Jones’ struggles were the mirror opposite of Anderson’s success on the day.  Coach Kelly however is happy with the progress Jones is making after coming off of shoulder surgery.


“I think Demetrius is coming along,” said Kelly following practice.  “He’s not as far along as Chazz (Anderson) is.  He’s an athletic kid.  He wouldn’t even have been able to get the snap off about a week ago, so I try to keep it all relative to his development.  He needed to get out there, he needed to get out there in a competitive situation and it was really good for him.”


Tony Pike and Dustin Grutza also saw playing time during the day’s scrimmage, albeit limited.  Grutza played with the consistency and experience he’s known for, completing five of his seven passes for 66 yards, along with a nine-yard touchdown run.  Pike’s limited play resulted in the junior going two for three passing for 14 yards.  Pike also navigated a 10-yard touchdown rush.  The only true blemish on his day was one sack, with no contact of course as Pike was dressed in red.


But no one could steal the show from Anderson, who over the last week has asserted himself as a serious contender for the starting quarterback position.  Many thought the red shirt freshman would need time to adjust to the college level, but his work ethic and love of the game have elevated him to a level no one saw coming heading into the spring.  Anderson was quick to praise his teammates however following his impressive Saturday.


“The offensive line did an incredible job, as well as the outside receivers and the inside receivers,” said Anderson.  “They’re just doing an unbelievable job for me and making plays, making things happen.”


Anderson’s game plan is simple- be thankful for the opportunities you’re given, and go out there and take full advantage of them.


Taking advantage of his opportunities could be the reason Anderson get the nod to start under center for the Bearcats this fall.


“It feels unbelievable,” said Anderson when asked how it felt to be in the running for the job.  “I’m just so thankful right now.  God is just so good, and I just hope that I can continue to make plays and get the ball to the playmakers.”


The passing frenzy of Saturday’s scrimmaging allowed for a large handful of Bearcat receivers to get involved in the action.  But just because the running game was limited didn’t mean it didn’t look impressive when it was used.  Red shirt sophomore John Goebel led the ground attack with 21 yards on five carries.  Jacob Ramsey was not far behind, collecting 19 yards on his four carries.  Ramsey also grabbed a two-yard pass courtesy of an Anderson shovel pass.


Howard may have led the receiving core in yardage, but tight end Adrien Robinson stole the show with three touchdowns off of three receptions and 23 yards.  After moving from wide receiver to tight end, Robinson is finding himself much more involved in the game plan than if he was still amongst the receivers.


Senior Dominick Goodman finished the day with three catches for 27 yards, while last season’s other starter, Marcus Barnett, had his two receptions go for 11 yards.


Sophomore Armon Binns impressed coach Kelly and the audience by making a great grab at while taking serious contact from the defensive back.


“I thought the tough catch that Armon Binns made, just really being covered well, a bang-bang play.  That’s what we were looking for, and at times we got knocked off the ball on the perimeter on those quick throws.  Binns showed up big for me today in terms of his ability to come in and help us,” said Kelly.  Binns totaled 20 yards and a touchdown off his three receptions of the scrimmage.


Tight end Ben Guidugli collected 18 yards and a touchdown with his two receptions, Tahree McQueen and Jared Martin each had one reception apiece, good for 24 and 23 yards, respectively.


One week away from Bearcat Bowl II, Coach Kelly and the Bearcats will have a couple of days off before hitting the field for the final week of spring ball Tuesday morning.


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