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March 31, 2012

Defense shines in first scrimmage of spring

Western Michigan's football team took to the field for their first scrimmage of spring practice Saturday morning, and while the secondary and defense have looked ahead of the curve for the whole spring, this was magnified in the scrimmage format.

"Our wideouts are young and they've got to get better," head coach Bill Cubit said after the blustery, cold morning. "[The secondary] has more experience. Eric Monette has played well, Schaffer is playing well, the other three guys, it's going to take time."

Cubit and the staff worked the running game about equally with the passing, as Dareyon Chance impressed with 87 yards on 11 carries including a 25 yard touchdown. Chance, Fields, and Scriven saw increased time with Tevin Drake sitting out of the scrimmage due to injury. Cubit felt that Chance is really making important strides from last season.

"I've been seeing that from him all spring, you know he was hurt all last year. He still needs some work, but you can see where he can be a productive guy," Cubit said.

Alex Carder and the young receivers struggled with their chemistry at times, but Carder did manage a 9-of-15 line on the day for 204 yards and two touchdowns, as compiled by WMU Media Relations. This was punctuated by a 73 yard hookup with Josh Schaffer on an out route and run after the catch. Eric Monette also caught a TD from Carder, hanging on while being sandwiched by two defenders. Zach Wynn and Matt Cutler also hooked up on a 20 yard touchdown pass, as Cutler caught the ball at the five and bulled in through three defenders. Cutler, a Portage, Mich. product, finished with a surprising four grabs for 44 yards.

Mostly, however, the defense stole the show. Lewis Toler picked off a pass on a tipped ball, and Justin Currie and Trevor Ishmael each recorded a pass breakup and fumble recovery. The defense also came out flying and laid several big hits, including a big shot on Courtney Bynes by redshirt freshman Ronald Zamort to break up a possible reception. While some spring practices are toned down somewhat, Cubit was happy to see the intensity.

"I like the competitiveness," Cubit said. "I thought the hitting was as good as we've ever had for a spring scrimmage."

Cubit was also excited about the style that Zamort brings to the field.

"He's a tough kid," Cubit said. "He doesn't weigh very much, but he goes out there and sticks his nose in there. He's just got to understand where he needs to be in coverages, and once he does that, he'll get reps in games."

Cubit also looked ahead to the next week and what WMU is looking to work on heading into next Saturday's scrimmage.

"The wideout situation, we've got to get those guys playing at a little higher level. I think there were some times that offensively, we got out of sync," Cubit said.

Injury update

-Kasimili Uitalia went down with an ankle injury late in the scrimmage, and will be evaluated but is likely to miss some practice time.

-Josh Schaffer suffered a slight shoulder separation on Saturday.

-Kendrick Roberts was held out for the scrimmage with a groin pull.

-Tevin Drake continues to miss time with a leg injury, and it is uncertain when he will return.

-Freddie Bishop and Cory Sueing continue to rehab from injuries suffered during 2011, and while both are close to a return, they are being held out as a precaution.

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