Aug. 9, 2008
WEST HARRISON, Ind. -
The University of Cincinnati football team closed out its first week at the Higher Ground Conference Center with a 75-play scrimmage Saturday on Family Day.
Players families were invited to watch practice and take part in a team dinner in the evening.
Following some special teams and short yardage work, the team moved into its first scrimmage of the fall campaign. The offense tallied only one score on the day as the defense made several stops at key moments.
Head coach Brian Kelly and his staff worked a lot of different player groups into the scrimmage, trying to get as many roster players evaluated as possible heading into the second week of fall camp.
"We got everybody a chance to be evaluated on film," Kelly said. "We've got a couple of days to look at our personnel. We wanted to make it entertaining for our fans, but for coaches, it gives us a real good opportunity to see where we are going into week two."
Defensively, Connor Barwin had a pair of sacks while DeAngelo Smith and Brandon Underwood each had interceptions.
"Connor Barwin is everything as advertised right now," Kelly said. "He's going against some great competition on our offensive line and when you add in what we've got on the back end with Smith, Mike Mickens and Underwood all getting their hands on balls with either break ups or interceptions, it's pretty clear that we have a very talented defense. That said, we still have a lot of work to do."
Dustin Grutza led the way for the quarterbacks. The senior was 9-for-11 for 107 yards, the day's only touchdown and an interception. After a nine-play 70-yard drive was nullified by an interception by Smith at the goal line, Grutza returned in his next series to lead a four-play 80-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Marshwan Gilyard in the corner of the end zone. Grutza was 3-for-3 for 53 yards on the brief drive.
"I thought Dustin bounced back after throwing an interception in the red zone and did a nice job of driving the team down the field," Kelly said. "He knows he has to work on getting better every day. There were signs on all sides of the ball that I can take away as the head coach, watch the film and come back Monday and start working on our weaknesses."
Offensive balance has been a concern for the coaching staff throughout camp. The running game was a focus through the scrimmage with Jacob Ramsey rushing seven times for 41 yards and John Goebel carrying the ball five times for 27 yards. Ramsey had the longest rush of the day, a 17-yard scamper that set up Lynch's touchdown catch.
"We ran the ball better today, more effectively," Kelly said. All in all, I saw some things in the running game that make me feel pretty good going into week two. I don't think it makes you any more effective, but it's the offensive balance I'm looking for. We didn't have that balance last year."
The Bearcats will take Sunday off and travel to King's Island for Meet the Team Day.
Fans seeking more information on Meet the Team Day at King's Island can click < a href="http://gobearcats.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/071408aaa.html">here.
UC returns to the practice field Monday a 9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. for its third of five two-a-day practice sessions.