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Defense dominates offense during UAlbany football scrimmage

Defense dominates offense during UAlbany football scrimmage

Offense 'beat up' during intrasquad competition
Defense dominates offense during UAlbany football scrimmage
Greg Gattuso is shown at last week's media day.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

ALBANY — It was a familiar sight.

Not a good one, either.

For long stretches in Wednesday’s intrasquad scrimmage, the University at Albany football program’s defense dominated its offense, an unwanted outcome for head coach Greg Gattuso’s team.

“I thought our defense played very well. I thought our offense played very poorly,” Gattuso said after Wednesday’s scrimmage at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. “That kind of goes hand in hand, but our offense needs to learn to fight through.”

That didn’t happen during UAlbany’s first scrimmage-based session of its preseason. A day after the offense had a number of strong moments, it offered little.

“Just not consistent. Didn’t come out with any fire,” Gattuso said. “Came out flat in the scrimmage and got beat up. Simple as that.”

Gattuso said the scrimmage didn’t do much to settle the team’s battle for its starting quarterback spot. Redshirt freshman Jeff Undercuffler spent the most time with the team’s No. 1 group, but Gattuso said he didn’t see much difference in Undercuffler’s performance compared to the one redshirt junior Griffin Dahn — a transfer from Nevada — delivered. 

“I didn’t see anybody take real control,” Gattuso said.

UAlbany did continue to find snaps for freshman Jah Dabney as a wildcat quarterback. While not a contender for the starting quarterback spot, Gattuso said earlier this week that he is interested in seeing if a wildcat quarterback role could develop for Dabney, who projects to mostly play at running back or wide receiver.

Defensively, Gattuso found positives in the way that group attacked at the line of scrimmage and the job the secondary did bottling up UAlbany wide receivers.

“We looked like our old defense out there,” said Gattuso, whose program’s defense had a down year in 2018.

In particular, defensive linemen such as redshirt sophomores Anthony Lang and Mazon Walker, and redshirt senior Eli Mencer earned praise from Gattuso for how they applied constant pressure.

“Our defensive line is good,” Gattuso said, “and they showed that today.”

Offensively, UAlbany did play without junior running back Karl Mofor. The Great Danes’ No. 1 running back is healthy, Gattuso said, but the coaching staff wanted to give Mofor a day off and see redshirt junior running back Alex James — a transfer from Coastal Carolina — with the first-team offense on a consistent basis.

But?

“The offense didn’t respond,” Gattuso said of the group’s work without Mofor, who rushed for 596 yards and five touchdowns last season.

UAlbany’s next scrimmage day is set for Tuesday. The Great Danes open their season Aug. 29 at Central Michigan before playing their home opener Sept. 7 vs. Bryant.

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

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