The third and final scrimmage of the fall is all wrapped up. Even though we didn't get to see a single snap of this one (we at least got to see a little of No. 1 and No. 2), it's apparent the offense had it's best scrimmage of the fall so far.
"I think as far as an offense, this was our best scrimmage by far," left tackle Jason Fox said. "We executed. We didn't have a turnover tonight. Pass protection was there. I'm not sure if we gave up any sacks. No dropped balls. I think we had one penalty. This was a great way to finish off camp as far as an offense."
Fox told reporters the offense scored seven to eight touchdowns. Well, it wasn't that much. Chavez Grant told me somebody was multiplying by two. After all the interviews, I've concluded there were four.
Three belonged to sophomore receiver Leonard Hankerson, who told us he caught two long passes (one
from Robert Marve and Jacory Harris) and another on a bubble screen (from Harris). Hankerson admitted he's been feeling the heat from the freshmen, who up until Tuesday had been receiving all the praise from coach Randy Shannon.
"I felt I had to play well because in the previous [scrimmages] I didn't do as well as I should of," Hankerson said. "So, today I just had to come out and show I can play. The performance I figure it help with the coaches and my confidence too."
Hankerson, who said he's lined up at all three receiver positions (flanker, split end and slot), said he caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Harris in the end zone. His 45-yarder from Marve was caught at the 25-yard line, he then raced past the secondary into the end zone. His third and final touchdown came on a bubble screen at the 30-yard line.
"I guess he has that deceptive speed," cornerback Chavez Grant told me. "He's not a slim guy. He's kind of heavy set. He runs great routes. But you don't expect him to jump on the horse, but he did tonight. We kind of busted some coverages and once the offense got the momentum going. They just did well."
> Grant said the defense was called for offsides four times -- including once on a punt block, giving the offense new life.
> Shannon didn't say a word about Hankerson, a St. Thomas Aquinas grad once after we asked him who shined during the scrimmage. The only name that came out was freshman receiver Thearon Collier, whom Grant told us had a rushing touchdown. Shannon said Collier did a great job on punt returns.
Shannon told reporters before Tuesday the final scrimmage was going to focus on special teams. He reiterated that if the season started today, sophomore Matt Bosher would handle all of the kicking duties. Grant said he, Graig Cooper, Collier and Benjamin are the guys primarily working on punt returns and pointed to Ryan Hill, Brandon Harris and Shawnbrey McNeal as guys working in the kick return game.
> Grant said part of the reason he thinks the receivers have been enjoying so much success this fall is depth, something UM obviously hasn't had the past several season.
"I think we have a lot of speedy freshman, big strong guys like Laron Byrd," Grant said. "They're coming in, making it tough for us. They're rotating every play, so they got fresh bodies. It's making us tough on our DBs. All of them have great talent. If they keep rotating, they're going to be real good."
Grant said he and Bruce Johnson are the guys starting at cornerback, but admits he moves inside when DeMarcus Van Dyke comes in the game. He said Brandon Harris is seeing a lot of time at nickel. "I don't even want to take that spot back," Grant sad. "Right now, just like it was for my first two years, he's doing a phenomenal job, making all the right checks, that's his spot right now. You just got to give it to who is performing the best right now."
> Shannon said defensive end Eric Moncur and Allen Bailey still aren't participating in full contact drills. Safety Randy Phillips was held out. So was freshman receiver Tommy Streeter.
> I know Shannon doesn't want to be accused of favoring his son Xavier, who is expected to start at center. But we all cracked a laugh tonight when I asked him how Xavier is doing. "Don't know, don't watch him," Shannon said.
> Jason Fox is officially becoming my favorite quote on this team. He's answering questions honestly and with real thought. I asked him for his take on several subjects...
How is Xavier doing at center? "With Xavier, he's playing a new position, he played tackle over there, so he's picked it up. He's quick. He hasn't missed a beat. He's graded out well in scrimmages."
Who on the offensive line would you say has made the most progress since camp began? "AJ Trump he's a guy if he's not starting, he'll be the sixth man. He'll play a lot. He had a block that sprung a touchdown on the last play. He's a guy that's been working real hard and shined."
Who on the defensive line is making an impression on you? "Same old name keeps popping up -- Marcus Forston. He's a hard worker. He's playing real well for a freshman. He's making a lot of plays."
> UM is off Wednesday. Ill be back on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. The team practices at 5:30 a.m. on Friday.