UAlbany’s defense earned bragging rights for the rest of April’s football practices Saturday afternoon, as they roughed up the offense for a win — 56-32, going by the way coaches score it — in the annual spring game.
The Great Danes’ defense caused seven turnovers and allowed only one touchdown.
With seconds remaining in the first half, quarterback Neven Sussman hit tight end Anthony Manzo-Lewis in the flat for what seemed to be an easy touchdown. However, cornerback Rayshan Clark stripped Manzo-Lewis on the 1-yard line, and DaSharnte Thompson., scooped up the loose ball and returned it 21 yards.
Clark didn’t stop there. The redshirt senior picked off DJ Crook on the near sideline and returned it 64 yards to the house, generating a buzz of excitement from the Great Danes’ defense and fans who came out to Casey Stadium.
“There was a lot of energy and they competed really hard,” UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso said of his team’s effort after the game. “My main goal is to see enthusiasm and competitiveness. I think our kids are finally getting how we want them to practice. I’m happy with the culture we’re starting to build here.”
Quarterbacks Sussman (three interceptions) and Crook (one) both struggled, each missing several throws.
“The quarterbacks made some silly reads, but they’re still learning,” Gattuso said.
Despite the shaky QB performances, Gattuso said this will not have an effect on the battle for the starter position.
“Neven’s out front, but we love DJ, we trust DJ,” Gattuso said. “I hate trying to make a decision on a quarterback until you really get a bunch of games under your belt.”
The Great Danes had a nice couple of runs, but really could not get the running game going with their committee of including Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, Power Lawrence and Jamal Williams. Running back Elliot Croskey, a CBA product, remains suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules and was not at the scrimmage.
The Danes wrap up spring practices next week. UAlbany opens the regular season
Sept. 2 at Buffalo.