Both the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University football teams held scrimmages yesterday in preparation for the coming season, which in both cases starts in less than two weeks.
And both scrimmages had similar themes: the coaches saw some things that were promising, and some things that were problematic.
The Rockets scrimmaged first in a one-hour affair held under cloudless late morning skies in the Glass Bowl.
UT had its first-team offense drill against the second team defense and vice-versa, with the third stringers on both sides of the ball competing against one another. Head coach Tom Amstutz had the ball set at different places on the field to give his team a variety of different looks.
Amstutz also rotated his top two quarterbacks, junior Cedric Stevens and sophomore Bruce Gradkowski, with the first unit as both continue to compete for the starting job.
“They both did a great job of making me more confused,” Amstutz said of his two quarterbacks. “They both did a lot of things that would win football games.”
Among the highlights of the Rocket scrimmage were:
“I was fairly pleased [with the scrimmage],” Amstutz said.
“I thought Hudson made a great catch on the touchdown, the offensive line was solid and the first group defensive line was solid. And [junior free safety] Patrick Body did a great job of running the defense and making some plays.''
FALCONS: BG held an afternoon scrimmage under threatening skies at Perry Stadium, and it was the defense that dominated most of the action. The Falcons also played first stringers against second teamers on both sides of the ball, and coach Gregg Brandon moved the ball around the field to present different challenges to the offense and defense.
On the first three possessions of the scrimmage the offense drove down the field to set up 27 and 41-yard field goals that junior kicker Shaun Suisham converted. But after that the defense clamped down, allowing just two first downs over the next seven possessions.
Once the ball was put on the defense's 20-yard line the offense showed it had not forgotten how to push the ball into the end zone. The Falcons, who scored points on 61 of 63 attempts in the “red zone” a year ago, got three touchdowns and a field goal on four tries inside the 20.
“I was very pleased, because the intensity [of the scrimmage] was really good on both sides of the ball,'' Brandon said. “We've got to tackle a little better on defense, but as long as they keep running to the ball the way we have been I'll be happy.
“I thought [senior quarterback] Josh Harris played well, and our punters and kickers did well. And our defensive line is coming along, especially [sophomore Mitch] Crossley and [freshman Devon] Parks on the ends and [sophomore Mike] Thaler in the middle.''
INJURIES: Both UT and BG have remained generally injury-free. In the Toledo camp the biggest concern is junior offensive tackle Nick Kaczur, who took part in drills but was held out of the scrimmage. For Bowling Green the biggest losses have been on defense as junior linebacker Jovan Burkes and sophomore lineman Matt Leininger both did not practice.
All three are expected to be ready for the start of the season. Bowling Green hosts Eastern Kentucky at Perry Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 28, while Toledo travels to play Nevada Las Vegas the following night.