Not surprisingly at this Saturday's Blue-White Spring Game the Blue squad which consisted of mostly starters won handedly 34-7 over the White squad. The co-offensive MVPs for the game were quarterback Jake Heaps and wide receiver Justin McCay.
Heaps started off the game in the first half completing 15 of 17 passes that included three touchdown passes, two to tight end Jimmay Mundine and one to Tony Pierson. The most impressive offensive play of the day came in the second half when McCay made a spectacular one-handed grab down the sidelines for 47 yards.
Later in the scrimmage, he made a leaping touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone. Their chemistry isn't surprising considering both players had all of last year to work on their timing together on the scout team.
"We made a lot of good plays out there today, but it is a constant work in progress," Heaps said. "With Justin, we have been working together a long time, so we are maybe a little bit ahead of the game, but that is something that I want to work with everybody to get there."
The highlights on the day for the white team were the two long passes Michael Cummings completed to Josh Ford. Last year Ford rarely saw the field at wide receiver because of frequent dropped passes but was a standout on special teams because of his athleticism.
Cummings also showed improvement in his accuracy on long passes compared to last season.
"There is no doubt he is more confident because he has a better understanding of what we are doing," Charlie Weis said.
Linebacker Ben Heeney won the defensive MVP award but the entire linebacker group as a whole played solid. Linebacker Jake Love and Courtney Arnick took good angles to getting to the ball carrier and looked much quicker in diagnosing plays. Earlier in the spring Weis said one of the biggest things he wanted to see on defense was more players swarming to the ball and an increase intensity level.
"It is easier to tighten it down once they have learned to play with passion," Weis said. "What's a lot tougher is to take a team that doesn't play with passion and get them to play with passion. I would rather work backwards than forwards. I think one of the things that happens is when we were playing the games last year is we were waiting for something bad to happen instead of making something good to happen. I think the teams that play with passion doesn't play that way."
After the scrimmage, Weis said he game planned the scrimmage to somewhat minimize blue team buck linebacker Chris Martin's impact to help make the white team a little more competitive. From an energy level it was clear Martin was one of the louder and more vocal players on the field.
"He is wired for sound," Weis said. "He is one of those guys that if you put a microphone on him you might have to bleep out every other word. You would just really enjoy the experience because the kid doesn't play the game without playing it with passion. Even though he is a little bit wild, the bottom line is he is ours and our team feeds off of him. I think if you asked our defense who they feed off of almost every guy would say they feed off of Chris Martin's energy."
The next few days for the players will be spent with the training staff to get a closer look at any possible injuries that may have occurred during spring ball. They will then each meet individually with their position coaches to evaluate their performance over the last two months of practice. Overall Weis saw maturity from his team from this spring compared to over a year ago.
"I felt the team was fractionalized when I got here and there were a bunch of little groups instead of one big group," Weis said. "I think they are moving closer to this and when you get there the older players are taking over instead of the coaches taking over. A team never gets any good until players take over that situation. All you can do is create the environment and get them to buy in and that looks like the direction we are headed. "