A dozen notes and observations from UM’s first spring football scrimmage at Ted Hendricks Stadium on Saturday:
### Al Golden has said the quarterback battle this spring will be akin to an NCAA Tournament play-in game among Ryan Williams and freshmen Preston Dewey and Gray Crow, with the winner emerging as Stephen Morris’ main challenger in August.
Williams, as expected, looks CLEARLY the best of the three, and August’s competition assuredly will come down to Morris (a slight favorite) and Williams (who’s making a strong case while Morris remains limited after back surgery).
Williams wasn’t perfect, but he was impressive Saturday with accuracy and his ability to make plays on rollouts. “He had good command, distributed the ball well,” Golden said, impressed that “such a big guy (6-5, 225) can get out of the pocket and throw it as accurately as he did.”
Williams finished 14 for 21 for 228 yards and four touchdowns.
### Crow was the second UM quarterback to enter the scrimmage (behind Williams) and delivered a few ill-advised throws but also but made a few more plays than Dewey, who was UM’s third quarterback. Many UM people expected Dewey to enter UM as a more polished quarterback than Crow, but it hasn’t looked that way so far.
A.J. Highsmith and Tyrone Cornelius dropped errant passes from Dewey that should have been intercepted. Dewey, who also overthrew walk-on Darris Hughes on a simple screen pass, finished 4 for 12 for 21 yards.
Gionni Paul dropped a potential interception thrown by Crow, who was 7 for 14 for 43 yards. One of Crow’s best plays – a pass to David Perry – was fumbled by Perry just as he was going into the end zone.
“It’s fun and challenging as a coach for two of your three quarterbacks to be high school seniors,” offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said of Crow and Dewey, who are early arrivals.
### Rashawn Scott is going to make a major impact at receiver. He caught two touchdowns from Williams on Saturday – a seven-yarder and a 62-yarder, which was mostly yards after catch. He made other impressive plays, including one catch-and-run where he juked Vaughn Telemaque practically out of his uniform. Scott finished with five catches for 115 yards.
“That’s the type of player he is – catch the ball and go,” Fisch said. “Rashawn is going to be an explosive receiver.”
### With Allen Hurns sidelined, Scott, Phillip Dorsett and Kendal Thompkins all had opportunities and produced. Williams connected with Thompkins on a 30-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
### With Anthony Chickillo sidelined by what Golden termed a pulled muscle, 238-pound Kelvin Cain moved from linebacker to defensive end and had two sacks. “The guy who’s doing a real good job over there is Kelvin Cain,” Golden said of his defensive ends. Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said it’s possible Cain could play defensive end this season, but also sees value in him at linebacker.
Shayon Green (one sack) started at the other defensive end spot.
### Brandon McGee and Ladarius Gunter were the first-team cornerbacks, with Thomas Finnie, Davon Johnson and Larry Hope behind them. Hope made a nice pass breakup on a throw from Dewey to walk-on Garrett Kidd, and Finnie made an end-zone tackle for a safety.
Gunter was called for pass interference on Dorsett, but D’Onofrio said he has risen to first team because he’s “really talented, savvy, understands it. He has done a lot of good things.”
Besides Gunter and Hope, four other new cornerbacks arrive this summer – including elite recruit Tracy Howard.
### Malcolm Bunche, Jonathan Feliciano, Shane McDermott, Brandon Linder and Seantrel Henderson were the first team offensive line, from left to right. Feliciano limped off during the scrimmage with a knee injury; Eduardo Clements said Feliciano fell into him but should be fine.
### Clive Walford caught two short passes in the end zone during goal-line work, but Fisch said, “I need him to be a lot more than a goal-line threat. I need him to be more consistent.”
### Mike James showed impressive speed on a 55-yard touchdown run and finished with 78 yards on 13 carries and three TDs. Clements also had some moments, including a 22-yard burst and closed with 56 yards on 18 carries.
### Golden said players who stood out included Scott, Williams, Bunche, backup tackle Jermaine Johnson, Curtis Porter, Cain and Gionni Paul.
### Jimmy Gaines, Paul, Eddie Johnson and Denzel Perryman all got work with the first group at linebacker. Johnson has made a lot of progress this spring.
### Besides Chickillo and Hurns, Corey King, Ramon Buchanan, Josh Witt, Cory White and Billy Sanders also did not participate because of injuries.
Check back late Saturday night or Sunday morning for the Sunday buzz, which will have a lot more on UM football, among other topics.