QB Competition Heats Up

University of Miami coach Larry Coker learned a few things Saturday. The Hurricanes held their first scrimmage of the spring this morning at Greentree Field in Coral Gables. And after 36 plays, which took up six possessions, this much is clear: Tailback Frank Gore appears to be on the right track, Brock Berlin isn't going to let Derrick Crudup rest easy at quarterback, Quadtrine Hill is making a case for the ball and the defensive unit might be in mid-season form sooner than later.

Gore, who missed the entire 2002 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, rushed for 33 yards on two carries, including a 23-yard scoring run that was the lone touchdown of the scrimmage. Hill added 36 rushing yards on nine attempts and an eight-yard reception.

Hill, slated to start at fullback, had runs of 12 and 15 yards during the fourth series of the scrimmage as he spent much of the day splitting time at both the tailback and fullback positions. His lone reception came on the first play of the second possession.

Berlin, a junior transfer from the University of Florida, opened camp earlier this week behind Crudup in the competition for the Hurricanes starting job at QB. But he did little wrong in his only opportunity of the scrimmage, completing 2-of-3 passes for 23 yards and leading the Hurricanes to their only scoring drive.

Berlin completed his first pass attempt to Hill and moments later showed an ability to elude pressure with a five-yard run that resulted in a first down. After an incompletion, intended for receiver Jason Geathers, Berlin hooked up with junior tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. for a 15-yard gain. Gore scored two plays later. Crudup started the scrimmage with the first-team offense but failed to prolong a drive that began with a first-down completion. It wasn't until the fifth series that he showed any consistency, completing two passes for 27 yards.

Although it appeared Berlin made up ground on Crudup with his performance Coker said that it's still too early to reach any conclusions.

"All the quarterbacks will continue to be evaluated on film and we'll take it from there."

Due to a stipulation set by UM officials before spring practice only one quarterback is made available to the media per day. Berlin and Crudup were not allowed to comment after the scrimmage.

With reserve tailback Jarrett Payton out nursing a strained achilles Hill was forced into double-duty. But he wasn't complaining.

"I know there is a lot of talent here but I want the ball just as much as the next guy," said Hill who had 15 receptions for 192 yards and seven carries for 16 rushing yards in 12 games last season. "It was fun to get back out here. I felt good and I'm just trying to contribute any way I can."

Although the coaching staff limited him to just one full series Gore showed little affects from the knee injury, bursting through a hole and breaking tackles by Antrel Rolle and Sean Taylor before racing into the endzone.

Said Gore: "I felt good. I was looking forward to getting back out there."

"How's Gore doing?" Coker asked. "He did some things today and I really liked what I saw. We've kind of held Frank back some so he's been raring to go for a while. Frank would have loved to stay out there but we got him a series which was good."

Coker also singled out the defensive unit, which allowed seven points, for good tackling and pass coverage. He praised the linebackers, most notably Jon Vilma and Roger McIntosh.

Senior Talib Humphrey, who at times lined up at receiver to make up for the shortage at the position, had two receptions for 16 yards.

ON THE SIDE: Senior receiver Kevin Beard (knee) participated in light drills before the scrimmage. Mark Gent and Jon Peattie made all their field goal attempts during individual drills. Darnell Jenkins, Roscoe Parrish and Brandon Merriweather all returned punts during drills. Sinorice Moss (ankle), Maurice Sikes (shoulder), Akieem Jolla (quad), Ryan Moore (hamstring), Kyle Cobia (knee), and David Williams (knee) sat out.

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