March 31, 2007
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ----- The UAB football team held its first scrimmage of the spring here Saturday and head coach Neil Callaway left the field pleased with his team's effort and intensity, though he said the Blazers still have a long way to go.
The team's seventh practice of the spring featured a spirited scrimmage that lasted more than two hours and approached 120 plays from scrimmage, as well as 20 minutes of kicking game drills prior to the start of the scrimmage.
"Overall, I would say the scrimmage was pretty even as far the offense and defense, and who won and who lost," said Callaway. "I was really pleased with the intensity and effort. We had some good licks out there. The overall effort was great."
Not surprisingly, there were mistakes on both sides of the ball. Callaway said, "Mistakes are going to happen, but we don't like them. At this point, we're going to be understanding of them. Again, we're trying to be a hard-nosed football team and show good effort, and I thought we made a lot of progress in those areas today."
On the offensive side, the running game looked to be ahead of the passing game, at least for Saturday, according to Callaway. "We've got a long way to go as far as throwing and catching," he said. "And we've got to work on our blocking because you've got to have protection.
"You've got to have good passing and you've got to catch it. I noticed several times that when we had good protection and a good throw, we had a drop. Sometimes, when we didn't have good protection, the quarterback got hit. We've got to get all three of those things ironed out if we're going to throw the football the way we want to."
Callaway said he wanted to use the scrimmage to expose his team to as much as possible. "We didn't simplify anything on either side," said Callaway. "We went with what we had installed, and probably got too much on both sides of the ball, but we're trying to expose them to as much as we can right now."
Individually, Callaway praised linebackers Joe Henderson and Kris Guyton who were in on numerous tackles during the scrimmage. "I know I saw Joe have some really good licks out there. I thought Kris Guyton had some good licks."
Offensively, running back Reggie Jones of Bessemer, Ala., caught Callaway's eye. He finished with 35 yards on nine carries. The leading ground gainer in the scrimmage was Tony Shepherd who carried seven times for 46 yards, 35 of which came on a touchdown.
Sophomore Rashad Slaughter ran eight times for 25 yards while his brother, T.J., rushed for 33 yards on eight carries.
Quarterback Joe Webb was 12-for-24 through the air for 94 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Speight connected on 6-of-9 for 47 yards and one touchdowns pass. Rodney Bivens, Jr. was 5-for 14 for 57 yards.
Courtney Smith and Sylvester Mencer each caught four passes in the scrimmage for 25 and 32 yards, respectively. Tight end Jeffrey Anderson had three receptions for 43 yards, including a 26-yard TD catch. Darryl Harris, another Bessemer product, caught two balls for 35 yards, including a 26-yard score.
Senior Nick Coon, coming back from a preseason injury last fall, caught a pair of balls for 22 yards. Jones not only excelled running the ball; he also had two catches for 31 yards.
The Blazers had a pair of interceptions, including one by linebacker Larry Blanchard who went 77 yards for a touchdown after the pick of Webb. Frantrell Forrest also had an interception and returned it 32 yards.
Placekicker Swayze Waters was impressive as he converted both his three-pointers during the live scrimmage, one from 41 yards and the other a 37-yarder.
The Blazers will return to the practice field Monday afternoon after taking off Sunday.