The second scrimmage of the fall is in the books and for the first time since Media Day we got a chance to speak with UM's top two quarterbacks -- Robert Marve and Jacory Harris.
Before I get to what they had to say, we'll recap what happened and what we learned.
>Travis Benjamin needs a better nickname than TB. The 5-10, 160-pound freshman from Belle Glade Glades Central, who has been making plays since fall practice began two weeks ago, had another big night Friday. He took a short pass from Robert Marve on a bubble screen and ran right past Miami's defense for what is estimated to be from different accounts between a 55 to 60-yard catch and run for a touchdown.
Coach Randy Shannon called Benjamin exceptional and even asked reporters to scratch the name of Kayne Farquharson from the list of interview requests to add the freshman.
"I remember watching Travis when he played Northwestern in the jamboree [as a senior in high school,'' Shannon told reporters. "He caught a hitch route and went 90 yards. And that hasn't changed. Anytime he goes one-on-one with anybody he can go the distance. That's the kind of players we need on this team."
Shannon wasn't the only guy gushing about TB. "[Throwing the ball to him] reminds me of playing NCAA Football on the PlayStation 3 and you hit the R2 button and he just takes off," Marve said. "The guy has amazing speed. You throw the ball out to him and he always has a chance to go 80 yards."
Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, who was on the field for the play, said he though the defense had a chance to catch TB. "He reminds me of Ted Ginn the way he just caught the pass and ran up the middle. He's just so fast," DVD said. When he caught it, I thought we had a shot at him, but he just split the defense and ran like 55 yards with it. It was a blur."
Maybe, that should be his nickname. The Blur from Belle Glades.
Benjamin said he caught about three passes Friday. We (the media) saw one of them, a nice 15-yard gain on another screen. Shannon was asked what the likelihood is Benjamin has of being used when the season starts. It sounded like he wanted to say yes, but then he held himself back. I honestly think it doesn't matter what Shannon says at this point. He's going to play no matter what.
> All in all, Shannon said he was pleased with the scrimmage, which he estimated ran between 95 to 115 plays. Shannon said the offense moved the ball better than it has all fall, but that the defense picked up its play in the second half and did a good job limiting the offense.
Shannon said the team ran the ball 16 consecutive times to end the scrimmage. "It was a bloodbath. It was mano-a-mano. The offense drove the ball down to about the 20-yard line and we kicked the field goal," Shannon said, "That's how you want it to be, treating it like its 4 minutes left in the game and you got to run the clock out. So, I think we're becoming a more tougher team because of the addition of the fullbacks, their doing a great job of blocking for us."
> Aside from Benjamin's thrilling catch and run, the offense supposedly scored two other touchdowns -- the 4-yard Shawbrey McNeal run we saw and another by Lee Chambers, who had a few big runs and was praised by Shannon along with sophomore Damien Berry.
Shannon said Javarris James and Graig Cooper got limited work once again because he wants to continue to build depth. "We got to find depth at running back," Shannon said. "We got six guys, but we can't get caught like last year where we ran out of running backs. The more we get those guys working the better off we'll be. If they do a good job picking up the offense, we'll be OK."
> Kicker Matt Bosher missed a field goal -- we're not sure how long it was -- but he did convert his extra point. Freshman Jake Wieclaw hit a field goal, we believe it was a little less than 40 yards based on Shannon's quote above.
> Individually, the defense didn't get a ton of praise. But Robert Marve told us Brandon Harris was the other player to make an interception. Shannon called the pick uncalled for. "Brandon Harris made a great play on the ball," Marve said. "He went lateral on me, jumped up and grabbed the ball."
Defensive end Joe Joseph had the first one (CLICK HERE FOR THE DETAILS FROM THE BLOG OF WHAT WE ACTUALLY SAW). Jacory Harris told me afterward he wishes he could have the play back. He's just glad he made the tackle. "As soon as it slipped it out of my hands I felt like I had a string on my arm and I tried to snatch it back and I couldn't," Harris said. "It was a turnover so I had to go and make the tackle to keep the points off the board. I had to go through about 5-6 guys, jump, stiff arm them and then I eventually made the tackle."
> I'll have the audio interviews up from both Marve and Harris later tonight as well as some video highlights. But I asked both of them how they feel they've improved since the start of the fall. Marve, we all feel, will be the starter. But at least Jacory is keeping a good attitude about it.
"I'm the type of person that whatever coaches want is what I want," Harris said. "I didn't come here with a guaranteed starting spot. No coaches told me that. They just told me I had to come in and compete and that's what I'm doing. And it's a wonderful competition right now."
"Right now, in the first two weeks I feel like I've progressed a lot from spring. I'm actually comfortable now with the plays. I basically feel like I'm a sophomore or junior. Coach Nix has been working with us booting and getting our heads around. We do that we can see the blitz quicker and that makes us quicker on our throws. I think I've gotten better with the team, my confidence, the plays and the things I got to do."
Marve said he feels like he's seeing the game faster and that he feels like he's just getting the kinks out. "I
feel good in camp," Marve said. "You got the whole playbook in by now. I'm trying to get all the little kinks out of it. We had a few penalties in our 2 minute drill. It's hard to get going when you get that on first down. I think we're doing really good as a group though. All the quarterbacks are feeling comfortable."
How have you improved? "How fast the game looks in my eyes, it's really slowing down a lot," Marve said. "I can use my abilities to throw on the run or throw in general and make my reads. That's probably my biggest improvement."
> Almost forgot, it really is the Marve and Harris show. Shannon said Cannon Smith got all of one to two series. "Cannon Smith got a series or two toward the end of the scrimmage -- about 18 plays," Shannon said. "He looked normal. He moved the ball well like he always does."