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Fall Practice Day 10: A Full Scrimmage

As the quarterback competition rages on, the defense narrowly beats the offense in today's 11-on-11 practice.

Steven Bench throws a 95-yard touchdown pass to Tyre McCants in practice.
Steven Bench throws a 95-yard touchdown pass to Tyre McCants in practice.

Running about 100 plays on a hot Saturday morning, just about every Bull saw some action at the Frank Morsani Football Complex in a two hour scrimmage. Highlights included Malik Dixon almost intercepting the ball while wearing a cast on one hand, Steven Bench throwing for two touchdowns, and Asiantii Woulard leading the offense down the field like Joe Montana.

The receiving corps now has a big gap, as Coach Taggart announced that Stanley Clerveaux is out for the season with a torn ACL. "I hate it for the kid," said Taggart. "It's two years in a row he's had surgery, and put him out for the season. He was having a really good camp; he had a good spring, and a good camp. I was expecting big things from him, but unfortunately he won't be with us on the field."

The defense won 71-68, according to the coaches' scoring criteria. Runs through the middle worked again today, but the defense was all over any run or pass near the sidelines. Quinton Flowers looked pretty evasive out there, but the rule was two-hand touch, so he was downed more easily than he would have been in a game situation.

Safety/husky Jamie Byrd explained the run defense problem. "Once the 21 personnel comes in, we'll have a base package for that, and it's back to a 4-3 defense, so there's ways we can switch it around." So, basically if they see a lot of power running, they can swap a defensive back for an extra linebacker to help plug the gaps.

"I thought offensively we moved the ball, but we turned the ball over," said Coach Willie Taggart after practice. On the success of the ground game, Taggart gave credit to the hurry-up strategy. "Marlon (Mack) was in there doing well --and those other backs -- doing a good job running. And again, we've just got to be consistent."

After giving up a drive of 90+ yards, the defense put up a strong stop to keep the ball out of the end zone, which pleased the coaches. "I like the defensive stand. Offensively, we haven't put a lot of goal line offense in, so I'm not disappointed by that," said Taggart.

Quinton Flowers, on the other hand, was disapponted. "I would say I played like an average player, an average quarterback," he said after practice. "We had a long 94-yard drive and we got to the one and we got stuffed. Our defense played a really good defense, but we just have to keep pushing."

The offense practiced other goal-line situations and were not able to get the ball in easily, which Flowers did not like to see. "It concerned me a lot. When we get down here we have to score. That's something we have to do as a team, as a quarterback, as an offense, we have to do that."

Turnovers are a problem for both quarterbacks, which is the main fault that keeps the competition going. If a quarterback won today it was Bench. He threw two nice touchdown passes, including a 95-yarder to Tyre McCants. "They went man, and so I just took my one-on-one matchup on the outside and he ran a great route," said Bench describing the play. "We got great protection from the backs too, we made a check at the line and the O-line and the back did their jobs. He ran a great route and caught the ball, and my part was easy." Bench added, "That's exactly how we draw it up versus that look and that's what it's supposed to look like."

Taggart says the Bulls will have at least one more scrimmage before the end of camp, which will be played more like a live game, without situational field positioning. By then the team will have probably installed that goal line offense and that run-stuffing defense and we'll have a better sense of what they will look like this fall. More importantly, maybe by then we'll know which quarterback will start aganst FAMU on September 5th.