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Morley, young Northern Michigan football team bounces back from early miscues in first scrimmage

August 17, 2012
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - First-year Northern Michigan University football coach Chris Ostrowsky saw some familiar sights early on during his team's scrimmage inside the Superior Dome that may have brought him back to last season.

The dropped balls, errant throws and missed tackles all could have been flashbacks to the 2011 season, which was Ostrowsky's second as offensive coordinator.

There was something different about Thursday, however, that was not so reminiscent to last year's 4-7 campaign.

Article Photos

Northern Michigan University redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Morley, right, hands the ball off to senior running back Prince Young, left, during a intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday night inside the Superior Dome. The team is tentatively scheduled to hold three scrimmages before the season opener on Aug. 30 at Findlay. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)

The 'Cats rebounded.

"We are so young that sometimes we get caught up in young mistakes," Ostrowsky said. "We're formationally getting lined up wrong or the defensive doesn't get lined up right, but that's the fun of this - building this thing from scratch. That's expected with so many new kids.

"We're not pointing fingers anywhere. We are accountable for the things we do. Because of that, you're able to move on from the mistake because you know the player next to you is not going to jump you."

Northern moved on from its early scrimmage hiccups with the offense putting together a balanced rushing and passing attack while the defense showed glimpses of its 2010 league-leading, ball-hawking ways.

Thursday night was the Wildcats' eighth official day of training camp following the first practice a week ago on Aug. 9. It was the first of three tentatively scheduled scrimmages - the others being Aug. 22 and 24 - before the Aug. 30 season opener at Findlay.

Ostrowsky broke down the nearly 90 minute scrimmage into components including red zone situations, punting, field goals and kickoffs, giving him and his staff plenty of film to digest into the early Friday morning hours.

"We're really going to try and evaluate film tonight and try to figure out who our top eight DBs are, who our top eight linebackers are, because there are some real bubble kids. We'll see," Ostrowsky said.

The NMU coaches will also be taking an in-depth look at its next potential starting quarterback in redshirt freshman Ryan Morley.

While Ostrowsky has yet to publicly come out and name the second-year player out of Grand Blanc the 2012 starter, Morley has spent nearly all of camp working exclusively with the first offensive unit.

On Thursday, Morley took every snap with the ones while senior Cody Scepaniak worked all but one series with the No. 2 unit.

Morley had his ups and downs with the first unit Thursday, being picked off at least twice, but he also threw two touchdowns each to junior wide receiver Christian Jessie and sophomore receiver Julian Gaines.

The first score the Jessie is the one that impressed Ostrowsky the most. With the defense blitzing off the edge, Morley found Jessie on a hot route that Ostrowsky called "a big-time, high-level throw."

Two drives later, however, the redshirt freshman QB missed the same throw.

"I think he's doing great," Ostrowsky said about Morley. "He's really doing a great job for us. I think he's poised. He plays with a swagger that you can't really teach. At the same time, he's got to keep growing and keep working because of the fact that he is so young."

Ostrowsky limited the reps Thursday of veteran players such as senior defensive end Zach Anderson of Sault Ste. Marie, senior running back Prince Young, senior offensive Jace Daniels of Escanaba and junior wide out Christian Marble-King.

Senior Eddie Knoblock also continues to be sidelined this preseason with Ostrowsky making sure the linebacker is "1,000 percent," before he takes the field.

"We really tried to limit the kids we know can be great players," Ostrowsky said. "I don't need to see those kids very much. The most important thing is they are all healthy."

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.



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