An important area for depth is the offensive line, where new assistant Eman Naghavi joined the staff from Louisiana-Monroe. Mason Cook, Avery Reece and Jonathan Brown have all taken strides and proving themselves game-worthy.
“They’re not just getting reps, they’re getting quality, competitive reps,” Elliott said. “It’s one thing to put a line on the field and it’s another thing to put a line on the field that can produce.”
Elliott said the quarterback competition has also been intense. Quad Brown remains in the No. 1 spot, but is under pressure from Mikele Colasurdo and transfer Darren Grainger.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had a solid No. 2 or No. 3 in that room,” Elliott said. “We’ve got three quality quarterbacks. There’s a battle going on in there. I’m anxious to see them scrimmage a little more and see how they perform.”
The other battle is among the receivers, where redshirt freshmen Jacob Freeman, Robert Lewis and Ja’cyais Credle are pushing veterans Sam Pinckney, Cornelius McCoy and Jonathan Ifedi.
“The battle among battles is in the wide receiver’s room,” Elliott said. “I think we’ve got some cats that can go out and play. That’s a big-time battle for playing time.”
On defense, Elliott praised the improvement shown by cornerback Tyler Gore, safety Chris Bacon and Courtney Williams, who was moved to cornerback for additional depth. Gore has become more impactful when making tackles and Bacon has improved his tackling.
Jamil Muhammad, who began last season at quarterback before moving to defense, has been shifted to outside linebacker to take better advantage of his speed and power.
“After eight practices, we’re looking for the same consistency and effort we’ve had,” Elliott said. “If we can continue to do that and move through the spring game, we’ll be happy coaches and happy players. This is a team that has a mindset of its own. We don’t have to lead this team as much. They know exactly what they want and they know exactly how to get there.”
The spring game is April 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Center Parc Stadium. The plans or rosters haven’t been finalized, but Elliott said the format would be two 12-minute quarters in the first half and a running clock in the second.
“We’ll play and let them compete,” Elliott said.
There will be no admission to attend the game. Following the game fans may stay to watch “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on the stadium’s video board.