Defense first

Defenders outperform offensive teammates
in Mavs' 2nd scrimmage

Colorado Mesa wide receiver Marcus Hines runs for some extra yardage Thursday night after making a catch in the Mavs’ scrimmage at Stocker Stadium. The offense struggled to make plays against the defense.



Colorado Mesa quarterback Eystin Salum runs away from the defense after a broken play Thursday night in the Mavs’ scrimmage at Stocker Stadium. The offense struggled to make plays against the defense.



There is still plenty of work to be done in the next two weeks.

“We’ve got a little work to do, but we’ve got a couple of weeks to get it done,” Colorado Mesa football coach Russ Martin said after the Mavericks’ defense won the evening Thursday in the second of three major scrimmages before the Aug. 31 season opener against Western State.

“We need to be good on both sides of things. The first scrimmage there were a lot of good things on both sides and both competed really well. The other day we went live in practice in a couple of situations and the offense pretty much dominated.”

That was not the case Thursday, when the defense came at the offense with everything it had. Yes, the offense had its moments, including a pretty 93-yard touchdown from freshman quarterback Hayden Bollinger to Virnel Moon, who leaped over a would-be tackler near midfield and was home free.

Starting quarterback Eystin Salum threw some nice passes early on, hitting Marcus Hines with back-to-back quick hitters after he picked up about 25 yards on a broken play. David Tann played sparingly, and Brett Ojiyi and Jonathon Beverly both made some nice runs, but more often than not, the backs had little room because of how hard the defense pursued.

Martin saw that coming after the live drills earlier this week in practice.

“I think what happened was (the offense was) a little lax tonight and I think the defense got a little cranked up and played much better,” he said. “They got after it and ran to the ball and did some things. We’ve got to have practices where both sides are able to shine. It’s always tough to go against yourself because if one side does well, the other side worries a little bit and thinks they have to play better.”

Hines likes going against the CMU defense.

“I love it,” he said, “especially when you’ve got a great defense. I love to compete.

“They got the same after-scrimmage talk that we just got. We’ll see what happens Tuesday (in the final scrimmage).”

After the two-hour scrimmage at Stocker Stadium, where they tested out the new artificial turf, offensive coordinator Jeromy McDowell let the offense know he wasn’t satisfied with what he saw. Hines said the players had it coming.

“I’m not gonna lie, today wasn’t a good day for us as a whole,” he said. “It’s good that some people think we looked good, but we’re not even close to where we’re going to be. That comes with time. We’re going to be great this year.”

The depth chart is starting to sort itself out, but there’s still a lot of competition for playing time, just what Martin wants to see in the final two weeks.

Most of Saturday’s practice will be devoted to getting the young players some scrimmage time, although CMU played all five quarterbacks Thursday. Sophomore Rope Ruel ran the offense well, and the three freshmen, Brevinn Tyler, Bollinger and Aaron Howard, all had good moments. Tyler broke off a pretty run in the option and Howard directed a scoring drive.

Safety Dustin Rivas picked off a pass, and the defensive line and linebackers disrupted plays time and time again. Salum is used to making something out of nothing, and the receivers know what to do when he starts freelancing.

“It’s hard to keep an eye on him, you think it’s over and here comes Eystin out of the pocket,” Hines said with a slight chuckle. “We just keep moving and go to open spots and hopefully he’ll find us. Eystin is something else. This year, I’ll say it again, we’ll be great, it’s going to be exciting. We’re ready to make a statement.”

Martin, too, likes the talent in the receiving corps, which has about a half-dozen veterans back, and bolstered the depth with a couple of California junior college transfers, Isaiah Smith, a 6-foot junior from Long Beach City Community College, and Corbin Covey, a 5-10 junior from Moorpark Community College.

Tuesday’s scrimmage, primarily for the first and second teamers, will be closer to game speed as the Mavericks start to game prep for Western State.

“Our final scrimmage will be for the older guys, primarily the ones and twos and get into game situations and game flows, on the field, off the field. It’s time,” Martin said. “After that, we ought to be ready to go. There will be a lot of good things to teach from the tape tonight and that’s what we’re after.”


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