Filed by Ben Enos, filling in for Jonathan Okanes.
You couldn’t have asked for a nicer day in Strawberry Canyon today as the Bears took the field for their penultimate scrimmage of the spring practice season.
It was alumni day at Memorial Stadium, with notables like Tony Gonzalez, Desmond Bishop, Andre Carter, Justin Forsett, Zack Follett, Troy Auzenne and even Joe Kapp making appearances at the stadium. The alums got to come out of the north tunnel and made their way between two lines of current players.
“I think it gives (the current players) some motivation. I think it gives them a sense of pride,” head coach Jeff Tedford said. “We’re always talking about the guys that walked through that tunnel and I think it’s nice for them to see those guys.”
After some drill work, the team split into blue shirts and white shirts and went to work for the scrimmage itself. Brock Mansion started at quarterback, leading a three-and-out on the first possession. Mansion, Kevin Riley and Beau Sweeney all rotated regularly at quarterback throughout the day.
Mansion stayed in for the second possession and fired a 51-yard touchdown to Ross Bostock down the left sideline. Mansion gave way to Kevin Riley for the next two possessions and Riley led a hurry-up drill and a three-and-out.
Sweeney’s first action came on a lengthy drive. He led the offense from its own 30 down to the defense’s 22, with Georgio Tavecchio attempting a 39-yard field goal. It sailed wide left though, ending the drive with no points.
After a couple of drives that saw the defense play well (defensive back Brett Johnson, in particular, seemed to be around the ball a lot), Riley took over at the defense’s 30 and took nine plays to get the Bears inside the 10 to the 7. David Seawright hit a 24-yard field goal to end the penalty-plagued drive.
“I haven’t seen the film but this was probably Brett’s best scrimmage today,” defensive coordinator Bob Gregory said. “He did a nice job.”
Sweeney was the next quarterback to throw a touchdown, finding Nyan Boateng in the left corner of the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown. Riley followed that up three drives later by throwing his own touchdown, a 9-yard pass to Alex Lagemann.
Statistically, Riley finished 9 of 17 with one interception, one touchdown and 85 yards. Mansion improved on hist first scrimmage but still wasn’t extremely sharp, finishing with a line of 4-9-0 68 and Sweeney finished 6-12-1 60. All three QBs threw one touchdown. Afterwards, Riley talked about his performance.
“It didn’t start off great but as practice went along I thought we got better and better,” Riley said. “We were a little unorganized on offense. We had a few too many penalties and that can’t happen.”
Overall, it seemed like the defense won the day as a whole, with Kevin Bemoll and Ernest Owusu recording sacks and Charles Amadi and D.J. Holt grabbing interceptions. Gregory singled his linebackers out as having played well.
“I think they played very hard and I’m very pleased with that,” Gregory said. “We’re very thin at linebacker right now, so those guys took a lot of reps. We’re waiting for some of those JC guys to come and give us a little depth but, having said that, I think those guys are doing well. Mychal Kendricks, Mike Mohamed, Devin Bishop, D.J. Holt, Eddie Young, all those guys are having a good, solid spring.”
As for the running backs, neither Covaughn DeBoskie or Shane Vereen was able to get much going on a consistent basis. DeBoskie led in carries (8) and yards (15). Vereen carried five times for 10 yards. Marvin Jones led the receivers, catching four passes for 28 yards.
Tedford looked ahead to the final week of practice, one that will culminate next Saturday with the Blue-Gold scrimmage.
“We still need to get better in all phases,” Tedford said. “We’ll go look at the tape and look at the things we need to improve and that’s what spring is about – making mistakes and trying to get better from them. We need a productive week. We have four practices left and we need to be productive.”