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Freshman Eli Harold impresses in Cavs’ intrasquad scrimmage

Defensive lineman excites coaches

- - Thursday, August 16, 2012

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia held its first intrasquad scrimmage of the summer Wednesday night at Scott Stadium, and Morgan Moses found himself in the middle of both of the day's highlight plays.

The first was when true freshman Eli Harold blew by Moses to sack the quarterback, a veteran move that impressed offensive line coach Scott Wachenheim.

"That was as good a pass rush as we've seen — whether game or practice — in the last three years," Wachenheim said. "Morgan came off the field, and I said, 'What am I going to say to you, Mo? The guy made an unbelievably great pass rush. You've got to give him his props.'"

The Meadowbrook grad found his revenge on another play, after Darius Lee grabbed an interception for the defense, then ran into about 330 pounds of Moses.

"That's the second practice in a row Morgan has made a tackle," coach Mike London said. "So now he wants to be a linebacker."

London also clarified that after Harold got his sack, Moses put him on lockdown the rest of the night. Still, the play showed why expectations are high for the freshman defensive lineman.

"Eli Harold is hopefully going to be a household name when we get started," London said.

Wednesday's scrimmage was closed to media and fans, with the coaching staff reliving some of the highlights before Thursday's workout.

Not much new information was dispensed regarding the quarterback battle, which features incumbent Michael Rocco against Alabama transfer Phillip Sims. Sophomore David Watford also is in the mix.

During Wednesday's open practice, all three, as well as true freshman Greyson Lambert, got snaps. London said he hasn't changed the plan as far as dividing snaps, but would start solidifying things over the weekend, with another scrimmage likely Saturday.

"You can't practice four-deep," London said. "You've got to go at least two-deep plus ... getting two ready for sure, but you've always got to have a third one on that back burner."

London maintained that all three main receivers — Tim Smith, Darius Jennings and Dominique Terrell — performed well, an area of some concern entering training camp. And with 80 percent of the playbook in, the coach added that Sims has kept pace with the learning.

The scrimmage was situational, with the coaching staff dictating some down-and-distance situations, a period emphasizing the blitz, and one in the red zone that included the team's placekickers.

London and Wachenheim both made the same comment regarding their overall feelings, that the team is well ahead of where it's traditionally been at this point.

"We were light years ahead in terms of this time last year," London said. "Less mental errors, less missed assignments."

Notes: Freshman WR Anthony Cooper sat out Thursday's practice after getting his wisdom teeth removed. He will audition at safety and cornerback when he returns to action. ... The team has filmed two more episodes of its in-house, behind-the-scenes television program. They will air over the next two weeks, starting Monday, on Comcast SportsNet.

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