Senior quarterback Cody Kater, who missed almost all of last season with a collarbone injury, finished 16-of-23 passing for 257 yards and three touchdowns in his first action since being sidelined in the Chippewas season-opener at Michigan.
The only other quarterback on the CMU spring roster, sophomore Cooper Rush, passed for 23-of-33, with 232 yards and two touchdowns.
Head coach Dan Enos said while Saturday’s game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium gave little indication of who the 2014 starter will be, Rush holds a slight advantage.
“Cooper started a lot of games for us last year,” Enos said. “Cody is an extremely proud kid. They both are really competitive. Our team has confidence that if either one of them is in the game, they both give us a good chance to win.”
One CMU football player who looked extremely confident on Saturday was tight end Ben McCord, who caught five passes for 78 yards and all three of Kater’s touchdown tosses.
“I’m just trying to be a playmaker this fall and this today helps me think of myself that way,” McCord said Saturday. “Both guys (Rush and Kater) do a good job of helping us (receivers) get open. I trust both of them.”
Rush said he has been waiting all offseason for an environment like the one he and his teammates were thrown into Saturday.
“The whole team was excited for this one,” Rush said. “We want to play the game. That’s what we do. This is the closest thing we can get to that right now.”
Rush said he is thankful for the experience he gained as a starter in 2013 and was impressed by Kater’s speedy recovery and noteworthy performance on Saturday.
“He made more plays than I did today,” Rush said. “The competition is good for us. It makes both of us better than we would be otherwise.”
Meanwhile, Kater suggested there is no bad blood between the only two quarterbacks on the 2014 spring roster.
“Cooper is (a) pretty smart kid,” he said. “We aren’t like best buddies, though. We definitely do not hate each other, either.”
In the backfield, sophomore rusher Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore stood out most of all running backs, orchestrating several quality runs and catching Rush’s first touchdown of the afternoon.
Enos said Shoemaker-Gilmore could be one of two or three tailbacks that see the majority of the touches for the Chippewas in 2014.
“We have a lot of really good backs,” Enos said. “Maurice is one of those guys that does not need to slow down when he makes his cuts up the field. That’s valuable. We don’t want to play more than two running backs because we want the guys that are our regulars to develop a rhythm.”
Enos gave insight into the “closeness” of the potential 2014 team. He said leaders emerged as he and his coaching staff split the team in half for Saturday’s game.
“It was interesting to see which guys would step up and take those leadership roles the past couple of days,” Enos said. “It’s good to have some guys that are more established and others that saw their first action today. Today was a lot of fun.”
The Gold squad (led by Kater) beat the Maroon team (quarterbacked by Rush), 20-17.