Hubbard shines in final scrimmage for Colorado Mesa
Whoever ends up as the starting quarterback of the Colorado Mesa football team, he will be distributing the ball to some potentially explosive players.
DJ Hubbard showed what he can do in the Mavericks’ final scrimmage before the season opener, Sept. 6 against Dixie State. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Stocker Stadium.
Hubbard lined up in the backfield with the first team, shifted and danced for some big runs, including one for nearly 50 yards on the first series.
“This is me. I feel like this is the year I’m coming into my own,” Hubbard said. “I’m finally close to as good as I can be. I can still get better each and every day.”
Hubbard played running back through junior football and into high school, but CMU coach Russ Martin moved him to slot receiver when he came to Colorado Mesa. He saw limited time as a redshirt freshman and was hampered by an ankle injury last year.
“DJ is playing really, really well,” Martin said. “The thing with him, where he’s played receiver before, he has the versatility, he’s also an outstanding special teams player. Tonight, he had the one block (on punt team). He’s going to be an extremely valuable player for us.”
Hubbard will also return kicks again this season.
Martin was mostly pleased with his team’s performance in the final scrimmage.
The Mavericks scored touchdowns on their first three series and didn’t have as many turnovers or penalties as they did in the previous scrimmage. The weather conditions were much better than the previous scrimmage in the rain.
“Last Saturday, they struggled with the rain with some dropped balls and bad snaps,” Martin said. “Tonight was more indicative of what we can do just because we’re getting a lot better quarterback play, and at all the positions, of understanding what we’re doing. We’re doing better with blitz pickup, and that gives our quarterbacks more time to throw the ball.”
All three CMU quarterbacks led the offense to touchdowns on their first series.
Martin said sophomore Aric Kaiser will probably start, but freshman Andrew Cota will play despite being a freshman. Sophomore Kyle Duran threw two TD passes.
“Cota is very dynamic,” Martin said. “He’s the type of guy we want for running this system. That’s the kind of quarterback we’ll continue to recruit.”
Cota is similar to the quarterback Martin had run the Nebraska-Kearney offense that was one of the best in the nation in 2011.
Defense settles in
The defense responded to the offense’s fast start and didn’t allow a score on the next six series. They also forced three interceptions and a fumble.
“Defensively, we still had guys flying around,” Martin said. “We weren’t quite as sharp with our tackling. We had a couple wrong fits in the run game. If we get those fixed up, we’ll be an extremely good defense. I’m excited (about) what our defense is doing.”
Linebacker Zach Schiegg injured his knee pivoting during a kickoff drill before the scrimmage, but there appeared to be no other injuries in the scrimmage.
Four key players were kept out of the scrimmage.
Running back Ricky Trinidad was held out for precautionary purposes with a hip flexor. He’s probable for the season opener next Saturday. Wide receiver Ian Juede remains out with a broken hand and is questionable for the opener.
Offensive linemen Austin Beswick (knee) and Mitch Wehrli (concussion) didn’t participate in the scrimmage and are questionable to probable for the opener, Martin said.
“I’m pleased with the guys that stepped in (on the offensive line),” Martin said. “Eric Sander-Cedarlof and Austin Fleer did some good things.”