By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Aaron Keen knows how good quarterback Jon Wolf can be. He also has a pretty good idea about backup Mitch Brozovich.
But freshman Nicholas Pieruccini? Not so much.
“The quarterbacks haven’t been live (contact) all spring so it was good to see them out there,” Keen said. “I though (Pieruccini) made some plays against some very good defensive players.”
Minnesota State held its annual spring scrimmage at Blakeslee Stadium on Saturday, the first live action at the stadium since a loss to Valdosta State in the national semifinals last season. Three Mavericks quarterbacks combined to complete 24 of 40 passes for 333 yards.
Starter Jon Wolf, who was held out of contact, completed 7 of 11 for 100 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown strike to Dennis Carter. Brozovich completed 7 of 11 passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 51 yards.
Pieruccini, a redshirt freshman from Chicago, was 10 of 18 passing for 160 yards, including a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 66 yards.
“I think it plays to our quarterbacks’ strengths when we allow them to play physically,” Keen said.
Defensively, Chris Schaudt, Shonquille Dorsey and Marcus Gooden each had a sack, and Evan Koehler made an interception. Jared Gillespie returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
“One of the things that stood out was our depth at receiver,” Keen said. “We’re not going to replace Adam Thielen with one guy; we’ll replace him with a group of guys. We had a lot of guys make catches, and I was really pleased to see them make the plays.”
Austin Rieder, Carter and Hunter Friesen each made two receptions.
The Mavericks return a lot of starters from the 13-1 team, and Keen said that group met the challenges of spring practice without many injuries.
“The biggest thing is to get through spring injury-free, and we did that for the most part,” he said. “We had some adversity with the weather this spring, and the kids’ attitudes were tremendous. It was nice to have nice weather the last three days so we could have some fun. We have a long way to go, but I like this team.”