Rebels Hold First Spring Scrimmage
March 27, 2009
LAS VEGAS - With a cool wind blowing during most of practice giving it more of a feeling of fall than spring, UNLV football held its first official scrimmage at Rebel Park on Friday morning.
After warming up with condition and position drills, the offensive and defensive units went head-to-head during the final hour of the practice, with both sides producing highlights. Rebel quarterbacks Omar Clayton (Normal, IL/Normal Community HS) and Mike Clausen (Riverside, CA/John W. North HS) wore their usual green jerseys and were not live, but everyone else was in the full-contact scrum.
UNLV head coach Mike Sanford like what he saw for the first scrimmage of the spring, including the second and third teams getting a lot of repetitions as players vie for starting and back-up jobs.
"It was a great day, a beautiful day to play football, and we got a lot accomplished," Sanford said. "We not only got to see the (first string) on offense and defense but also a lot of the 2s and 3s. We have a lot of tape to go over. We have a lot of competition going on at some positions such as defensive end, cornerback and safety on defense and running back and tight end on offense. We'll get to see a lot of those battles take shape on the tape of today's scrimmage. One major positive of today is that we came out healthy."
The defense had the upper hand in the first part of the scrimmage, led by junior defensive tackle Malo Taumua (Honolulu, HI/Aiea HS) and junior cornerback Warren Zeigler (San Leandro, CA/College of San Mateo). Taumua broke through the offensive line early and often to start the scrimmage, causing several quarterback hurries while disrupting the Rebel passing game. Zeigler, a junior college transfer brought in to help shore up the secondary, recorded an interception and had a pair of pass breakups during the scrimmage.
"Coming from junior college to Division-I, the speed was so much faster," Zeigler said. "Now it is not as fast as when spring practice first started, and I am getting more comfortable with the defense. It felt good to get that pick; it is always good to get your hands on the ball."
Offensive highlights included Channing Trotter (Mesa, AZ/Red Mountain HS) rumbling 65 yards for a touchdown and Clausen hooking up with Jerriman Robinson (Rialto, CA/Texas Southern) for a 43-yard gain down the left side line. The defense, though, contended that there was a clip on the Trotter scoring run, and Sanford said they would have to go back and look at the tape for an official ruling later.
LIGHTER TAUMUA = HEAVIER DEFENSIVE PRESSENCE
Taumua's strong spring, which has included a pair of Black Jersey honors, is not a surprise, considering the big defensive lineman turned in a strong sophomore season and looks prime for a break-out junior campaign. Taumua, who had his left knee scoped in January, attributes his strong spring to not only being an upperclassman, but also losing some weight during the winter. He lost 10 pounds since the end of last season, allowing him to be a little quicker and more agile, making him tougher to block.
"I feel pretty good and you want to get better each year, you don't want to go back," Taumua said. "I lost some weight and I feel like I am moving better and I am a little quicker."
LES IS MORE
Although he is one the more diminutive players on the field, junior quarterback Les Obie (Huntington Beach, CA/Golden West College) had a strong day running the third-team offense, moving the ball down the field. He directed a scoring drive that featured a couple nice completions to tight end Austin Harrington (Grapevine, TX/Grapevine HS), and Obie capped the drive by hitting Renan Saint Preux (Immokalee, FL/Immokalee HS) for a nine-yard TD.
He was also the only live quarterback and the 5-10, 185-pound signal caller took a couple hard hits but bounced right back up.
"Les Obie was the only 'live' quarterback today and did an excellent job out there," Sanford said.
THE BLACK JERSEY
The men in black during Friday's practice were Taumua and running back Chris Brogdon (Phoenix, AZ/Desert Vista HS). Taumua has turned in a very productive spring while Brogdon is battling with a host of other running backs for playing time after the departure of two-year starter Frank "The Tank" Summers.
Sophomore cornerback Will Chandler (Los Angeles, CA/Birmingham HS), senior linebacker Jason Beauchamp (San Diego, CA/Steele Canyon HS) and Isaako Aaitui (Pago, Pago/Faga'itua HS) were the other nominees on defense. Sophomore wide receiver Phillip Payne (Las Vegas, NV/Western HS) was in the running for the Black Jersey on the offensive side of the ball.
THE BLACK JERSEY is worn by the previous practice's top performer and the coaching staff votes on the winner.
PREVIOUS BLACK JERSEY WINNERS
March 16: Martin Tevaseu, DL March 18: Malo Taumua, DL, and Rodelin Anthony, WR March 21: Preston Brooks, DL, and Omar Clayton, QB March 23: Nate Carter, LB, and Michael Johnson, WR March 25: Jason Beauchamp, LB and Matt Murphy, OL March 27: Malo Taumua, DL, and Channing Trotter, RB
UNLV's next practice will be Monday (March 30) on campus and it is scheduled to last from approximately 4:00-6:00 p.m. All practices this spring are free and open to the public but visitors must stay in the designated viewing areas on the grass practice field.
Fans are also invited to attend the FREE Scarlet vs. Gray spring game on April 17 at Sam Boyd Stadium from approximately 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
UNLV 2008 SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC PLEASE NOTE: ALL DATES AND TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE
UNLV 2009 SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC PLEASE NOTE: ALL DATES AND TIMES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE