Austin Gearing continues to make a good impression during spring football practice at Miami University.
The Fenwick High School graduate is currently the No. 3 quarterback behind Austin Boucher and Drew Kummer, but Gearing had a hand in the two biggest offensive plays in Saturday’s spring showcase scrimmage at Yager Stadium.
“I just felt more comfortable today,” said Gearing, who will be a redshirt freshman in the fall. “I felt I could play football and not have to worry about what I do here, what I do there. I felt like I could just play.”
He stepped on the field and promptly threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Johnson, then showed some hard running with a team-best 28 yards on four carries. One of those runs was a 26-yard burst.
The 6-foot-5, 202-pound Gearing was 2 of 7 for 26 yards through the air and was victimized by a couple drops. He did catch a break on an interception by Dante Taylor (it was negated by a penalty).
“Everybody says this, but honestly, my offensive line gave me time today,” Gearing said. “I felt like I could stand back there and throw that touchdown pass like I did because of them.”
And what about his long run, which was reminiscent of his Falcon days? “It was funny. It did feel like high school again,” Gearing said. “But I love playing football with these guys. We’re all looking forward to the future.”
Boucher didn’t complete any of his six passes (several were dropped) and Kummer was 1 of 3 for 6 yards. Spencer Treadwell ran three times for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Gearing understands the quarterback job is Boucher’s to lose, but that doesn’t affect his mind-set.
“It’s never a bad thing when you have two or three talented quarterbacks battling for the second or third spot,” Gearing said. “We’re all great competitors. We’re all out here ready to start.”
The RedHawks’ offense produced 95 yards on 25 carries, and defensive coordinator Jay Peterson said that was too much for his unit.
“We want to give up no yards,” Peterson said. “We’ll have to look at the tape to see what happened, but I thought the effort was there. The quarterbacks were able to run the ball a little bit, but if that’s the worst thing in the pass game, I think we can deal with that. I think the coverage was good, and that’s a start.”
Two of the biggest hits came from tackle Austin Brown, who smothered running back Jamire Westbrook for a loss, and middle linebacker Kern Kern, who broke up a pass to wide receiver Fred McRae.
“You don’t have that many opportunities, so you want to make the most of what you have,” Kern said. “Coach Pete really works with us a lot on that, so I feel real comfortable in pass coverage. I looked over and Boucher was looking right at (McRae), so I just took off right at him and got a nice hit on him.”
McRae, who was hobbled by a deep thigh bruise last season as a freshman and got redshirted, smiled when asked about the play.
“I didn’t see him coming,” McRae said. “The linebacker made a good read and a good hit. Sometimes that happens.”
Said Peterson, “We expect that out of Kent. He’s not just an in-the-box linebacker. He’s athletic, runs very, very well and has a good football I.Q.”
The situational scrimmage only lasted about 30 minutes. It was a day for interaction with the fans and letting them see what kinds of drills the team does on a regular basis.
“We started like a normal practice so they could see what most fans don’t get to see,” Miami coach Don Treadwell said.
A long list of players didn’t participate in Saturday’s scrimmage, mostly because of minor injuries. That list included defensive linemen Wes Williams and Wesley Scott, linebacker Tyler Tucker, defensive backs Dayonne Nunley, Marshall Taylor and Trey Payne, tight end Orlando David, offensive linemen Brandyn Cook, John Anevski and Nick Custer, and wide receiver David Frazier.
Defensive tackle Mitch Winters suffered an ankle injury early in the scrimmage, but it isn’t thought to be serious. MU is down a D-lineman because David DeLeon has withdrawn from school.
Miami’s last two spring practices will be Tuesday and Thursday.