Sunday, April 18, 2004

Betts engineers Red's offensive explosion, 38-7

Roethlisberger successor throws 3 TDs

By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

OXFORD - Miami's offense might not do as much in 2004 as it did in 2003. It might do more.

That was the possible scenario posed by RedHawks offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery Saturday after quarterback Josh Betts led the Red team to a 38-7 victory over the White team in the annual spring game at Yager Stadium.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Betts, who is expected to replace record-setting Ben Roethlisberger as Miami's quarterback, completed 14-of-24 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns while going the distance for the Red team against a first-team defense depleted by injuries. He also was credited with carrying the ball seven times, and even though his net gain was a negative-5 yards, the versatility he displayed prompted Montgomery's prediction.

Roethlisberger averaged 4.8 carries and 7.9 yards rushing per game last season.

"Even though Ben was a great athlete and could run the ball, we didn't run him much," Montgomery said. "The guys we've got out there aren't as big, but they're faster. We could put more pressure on the defense."

Said coach Terry Hoeppner: "Hopefully, we won't have anything the other teams can focus on. It'll be a case of choose your poison."

Betts completed passes to eight different receivers, including touchdown throws of 90 yards to sophomore wide receiver R.J. Corbin, 4 yards to junior tight end Tyler Vogel and 22 yards to sophomore wide receiver Ryne Robinson. Freshman Brandon Murphy scored the first touchdown on a 6-yard run, and senior Adam Ciborowski added a 2-yard scoring plunge while gaining 71 yards on nine carries.

"We still have so much room to work," Betts said. "We have to work on things like little techniques and little mistakes. There's still a long way to go."

Instead of receiving kickoffs, each team either made fair catches of punts or simply took possession at its own 30-yard line. Ciborowski, a true junior who started while seniors Mike Smith and Luke Clemens were sidelined by nagging injuries, broke free for 41 yards on the first play from scrimmage to set up Murphy's touchdown run.

The Red team got the ball back on its 10-yard line following a Mike Wafzig punt. Betts and Corbin then teamed up on their 90-yard touchdown pass play. Todd Soderquist's second conversion gave the Reds a 14-0 lead.

Freshman quarterback Mike Kokal completed passes of 18 yards to junior Josh Williams and 42 yards to freshman Patrick O'Bryan to set up freshman Akim Lannaman's 7-yard touchdown run with 8:20 left in the first half. That was the only score the White team was able to muster.

The right-handed Kokal completed 13-of-26 passes for 173 yards. His last pass, which he threw left-handed while under pressure, was intercepted by freshman Jerrid Gaines on the last play of the game.

Three probable defensive starters - junior outside linebacker John Busing, junior tackle John Glavin and senior tackle Larry Burt - also didn't play, nursing injuries or illnesses. The Red team generated 362 yards of total offense on 51 plays, an average of 7.1 yards per play. Last year's team averaged 6.7 yards per play.

"We're a lot better than we were on Day One of the spring," Hoeppner said. "I can't wait to put the whole team together and get them pointed in the same direction. We had a good spring; now we need to have a good summer and be ready for camp in August."

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