Scrimmage Recap: 8/17/04

Tyrone Walker

The Western Michigan football team held its first of three scrimmages during training camp. Despite a few key players sitting out to not aggravate minor injuries the scrimmage was successful in allowing the coaches a chance to evaluate players in realistic game situations.

Practice and the scrimmage were moved to Waldo Stadium due to the threat of inclement weather, which never came, and the scrimmage that lasted an hour came after an hour and a half of regular practice. Aside from media about a dozen fans made it to the afternoon events to get a taste of things to come from the Western Michigan football team.

Missing from the scrimmage were running back Trovon Riley and tight ends Tyson DeVree and Tony Scheffler with minor shoulder injuries, however all participated in practice drills before the scrimmage. Also missing was Blayne Baggett with a hamstring pull, but holding him back was nothing more then a precautionary move according to Gary Darnell.

With those players out it gave some "younger players a good chance to show what they're made of and to play some good football with guys they don't normally play with," said offensive coordinator Brian Rock. "It was good for us [coaches] to see some players playing at a level higher then we expected some of them to play at."

The race for the starting quarterback job continues to heat up as Ryan Cubit ran all the plays with the first team, Robbie Haas with the second team and Alex Engram leading the third team offense.

Cubit had an up and down day as he throw a pair of interceptions to Dan Steinau and Scooter McIntosh. Steinau's pick was for a touchback on a broken play, while McIntosh read the pass and stepped into the passing lane to pick the ball off and run it back 15 yards. Cubit did have a couple good moments throwing a touchdown to Osborn Curtis and another to Tyrone Walker.

Robbie Haas also had an up and down day throwing a pair of touchdowns to freshman receiver Jamarko Simmons. However, Haas was often slow getting plays into the huddle and had numerous incomplete passes.

The most impressive quarterback was far and away Alex Engram who twice scrambled for large gains on broken plays, and threw touchdowns to Mike Onaga and his summer roommate Fernand Kashama. Engram showed good leadership for a freshman and was very confident on the field. Engram even started to break his habit of throwing the ball as hard as he can regardless of the situation; a prime example was the Onaga touchdown where Engram had to scramble to open space and threw a soft lob pass over coverage into Onaga's waiting hands.

The offensive line was a group that played extremely well… until the back ups got their turn. The first team linemen were solid at opening up the running game, protecting for the pass and helping to add yards down the field. The second and third team lines, however, didn't fare as well failing to open up much of any running game and allowing a handful of quarterback sacks.

On the run in the absence of Riley were Nick Saad running for several first downs, Lawrence Cannon breaking open for a 20 yard dash, Daniel Marks consistently gaining 5 yards on most every carry. Freshmen Mark Bonds, Brandon Brady and Marc Orosz all get spot duty but all performing well at times.

The receiving corps gave a now typical clinic on athletic and acrobatic catches with both Greg Jennings and Tyrone Walker showing their great speed and agility catching tough passes and creating their own space on the field. Walker also showed off his vertical jumping abilities on a couple high passes, one of which went for a touchdown right in front of the Indianapolis Colts scout there to watch him. Both Brian Jackson and Justin LeMay had solid days making several catches each, but neither broke free for the big play offense.

On the defensive side of the ball linebackers Steinau and Josh Behrens had a knack for finding the back field and the ball carrier on any play that came there way. Paul Tithof and Mike Giorgianni also had solid days with the first string defense.

At cornerback, players like Scott Robinson and DeRae Allen had solid days, but the surprises and big plays came from freshmen like Blake Sims, Scooter McIntosh and C. J. Wilson.

Safeties Kevin Ford, Darrell Copeland, Oseloka Keys, Shawntey Lopez and Mark Hardy all had solid days. The only freshman that stood out at safety was Brian Bell at strong safety.

The next scrimmage is scheduled for Thursday, August 19 at 4:30pm in Waldo Stadium.

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