The theme behind today's scrimmage was defense, defense and more defense. While there were some brief highlights from the offensive side of the ball, 7 turnovers, 6 sacks and a variety of drive-stopping tackles made this contest more a "Blackshirts" headline than anything.
Amongst the bright spots on offense though was Cory Ross, who's powerful and surprising north/south style made him the leading rusher on the day, carrying the ball 8 times for 49 yards. While that may not sound like a lot, with the stingy defense the Red team was facing today, this came out as perhaps the second best offensive output of the day.
The first would be the only scoring drive as the 3 & 4 units squared off, Garth Glissman hitting Kiffen Wigert for the lone score, a 39 yard touchdown over the middle. The Red team also added a 35 yard field goal by Sandro DeAngelis. But, that was about it. The defense dominated the day. "I thought the defense ran around pretty good today and really prevented big plays from occurring except for third unit, where there were a couple of big plays there, but that was the extent of the big plays." Head coach, Frank Solich said.
The offensive side of the ball did have more of a handicap than usual, Jammal Lord not being nearly 100%. That lack of being able to go full bore limited the NU offense considerably. "We were really limited with Jammal having the muscle pull where he was not able to accelerate." Solich stated. "So, we did not run the options at all with any of the units. Also, in the passing game, he (Lord) didn't have the ability to make any plays there."
"So, the offense was pretty hampered today when you take the QB out of it and take the option game completely out of it."
While the offense had to lick it's wounds, the defense seemed to be more than willing to add to those wounds as well. From the rush end position alone, the Blackshirts contributed 8 and a half of the 9 total sacks, Seppo Evwaraye's half a sack being the only one registered from the defensive interior.
On the day, NU ran 92 total offensive plays, able to amass only 263 yards in total offense. From the rush, the Red team averaged less than 2 yards per carry, once again, highlighted by Cory Ross's 49 yards on the day.
Seeing action for the first time today was QB, Curt Dukes as he came in sparingly, because his health was still an issue for the game. "We did put a green jersey on him, because his leg is still bothering him some." Solich said. "But, it was good that he got some snaps in there."
Solich did say that the back-up QB spot is still a long ways from being determined. "We've got a ways to go." Solich stated in reference to finding a good QB line-up. "We don't have a lot of time to fit it together the way we want and we will need to make progress on that this week. We're not anywhere close to where we need to be in trying to find a back-up quarterback."
The long personal foul of the game came from FS, Derek Matteo on a late-hit out of bounds and the interceptions thrown by Jammal Lord and Curt Dukes came at the hands of Steve Safranek and Terrell Butler, repsectively.
NU will resume practice on Monday then again on Wednesday and Friday before playing the Red/White game this up-coming Saturday.
Steve Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-730-5619