QB carousel continues at Mavs’ first scrimmage

CMU QB Aric Kaiser sees a open receiver at a scrimmage Sunday.



CMU_scrimmage_081913

CMU QB Aric Kaiser sees a open receiver at a scrimmage Sunday.

For Colorado Mesa University, the pieces are still coming together as the Mavericks move into their second week of practice.

During the Mavericks’ 90-minute scrimmage Sunday, second-year head coach Russ Martin said he was pleased with the overall effort he saw.

“Obviously, we did some very good things on both sides of the ball,” Martin said. “There were some mistakes we have to work on. Quarterbacks had a couple of decisions that weren’t good, but that’s also because we had some great plays on defense.”

With 20 days remaining until the season opener, CMU has a few unsettled positions, and the most heated battle is for starting quarterback. All three quarterbacks vying for that starting spot played well at times and struggled at other times in the scrimmage.

With the offense running a mix of first-, second- and third-teamers at times, it’s difficult to see which quarterback may have separated himself as a favorite for the starting position.

However, redshirt freshman Kyle Duran engineered two long scoring drives for the Mavericks’ offense. He led the first team offense on an 80-yard opening drive and scored on a short run. The TD was set up by a long run by preseason all-conference running back Jake Cimolino.

Senior Jason Haferman, who started several games for the Mavs last season, and redshirt freshman Aric Kaiser also played with the first team as the offense mixed and matched veterans and inexperienced players.

Martin said that after the first eight practices, all three quarterbacks are getting equal reps.

Playing in 90-plus-degree heat, the Mavs’ defense dominated the scrimmage at times, creating turnovers, getting sacks and playing physical, intense football.

Duran completed a long pass down the middle and made a nifty run to convert a third down on a 98-yard scoring drive.

With Cimolino playing sparingly, University of Nebraska-Kearney transfer Ricky Trinidad flashed his speed and elusiveness on several runs on the drive.

“Ricky Trinidad is a tremendous running back. He will be a great change-up with (Cimolino),” Martin said. “We’ve got a pretty good stable (of running backs).”

Trinidad rushed for more than a 1,000 yards last year at Nebraska-Kearney.

Haferman and Kaiser scored on TD runs in the scrimmage.

Martin said he’s not in any hurry to make a decision at quarterback, and the next step is to analyze the video of Sunday’s scrimmage.

“We will evaluate them off the scrimmage. We have a little bit of an idea, but we will now start to narrow it down,” Martin said.

Over the next several days, Martin expects the race to be down to two.

“We won’t (make a decision) for another 10 days,” he said. “We want to get three guys ready to run our offense in case we have an injury situation. I’m fairly confident in all three of them.”

With any scrimmage, CMU tried to simulate game-type situations to see how players reacted.

“We want to get our players in some situations where we’re having to play fast, having to make quick decisions,” Martin said. “There were good things, and there were certainly a lot of things we have to work on.”

The Mavericks received some tough news Thursday when multitalented slot receiver Daniel Rankin went down with a season-ending knee injury. Big things were expected from the Nebraska-Kearney transfer this season. His injury leaves a major question mark for the Mavs.

“We’ve got some guys who are stepping up and playing well,” Martin said. “It’s going to be tough to replace him.”

Martin said they limited the playing time of several veterans, such as Cimolino, and held out others like defensive lineman Will Harvey, who has a minor hip injury.

“Obviously, we know what those guys can do, and we wanted to take a look at some of our young players,” Martin said.

The Mavericks will have two more scrimmages before they open the season at home against Menlo College on Sept. 7.

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