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Monday, April 4, 2011
Notes from weekend scrimmages

By Brian Bennett

Spring practice was in full bloom over the weekend, and you know what that means: scrimmages! Here are some notes on the teams that faced off against themselves on Saturday.

Connecticut

The Huskies didn't hold anything back, and that sometimes was problematic. Linebacker Sio Moore delivered a big hit on quarterback Michael Nebrich and had to be reminded by Paul Pasqualoni that they are, in fact, still teammates.

The defense dominated for most of the scrimmage, and it's no surprise that side of the ball would be ahead of the offense, given the number of returning defensive starters. Quarterback Scott McCummings, who has reportedly had a good spring, fumbled and threw an interception on Saturday. Mike Box got the first reps of the scrimmage under center.

"I thought there was some good give and take,” Pasqualoni said. “I thought there was real, real good competition on both sides of the ball.”

Louisville

Held back a little by injuries this spring, the Cardinals held their first scrimmage on Saturday, a 150-minute, 95-play, hard-hitting affair.

According to the official recap, Will Stein threw two touchdown passes to Josh Chichester, for 16 and 59 yards. Receiver Josh Bellamy also had a big day. Shenard Holton and Marcus Smith each had interceptions, while Randy Salmon and Dexter Heyman were very active on defense.

"It's hard to really see what we have going on out there because we have so many guys injured," coach Charlie Strong said. "We have a lot of guys playing who haven't played much, but it's good that we are starting to build some depth. I was pleased with the effort and I thought there was a lot of good hitting.

Pittsburgh

Only a portion of the scrimmage was open to the media, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Buddy Jackson took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. The cornerback was only recently given a shot to return kicks.

Former guard Chris Jacobson is working at center and had some trouble with shotgun snaps. That will be key for the Panthers, who will be in the shotgun almost exclusively in their new offense. The newspaper also singled out defensive end Bryan Murphy as a spring standout so far.

Syracuse

The offense unleashed some big-play potential in the Orange's 84-play scrimmage. Big plays included a 75-yard pass from Ryan Nassib to Alec Lemon, a 64-yard carry by Antwon Bailey, a 70-yard dash by Prince-Tyson Gulley and a 54-yard pass from Nassib to Marcus Sales. Nassib was 7-of-12 for 192 yards.

But the offense couldn't keep the momentum after three straight scores, turning the ball over and failing to reach the end zone the rest of the day. Coach Doug Marrone said he didn't like the way the defense came out to start the scrimmage, but at least it responded. He singled out linebackers Dan Vaughan and Marquis Spruill and safety Phillip Thomas for praise on that side of the ball.