Spring Game Analysis

Spring ball is over and now it is time to focus on the fall. The Cats start fall camp in a little over three months and we are starting to get a better feel for what this team will be. We take a closer look at a number of performers in the spring game and how they played.

Adam Austin had a mixed day. He threw for 370 yards and two scores, but also threw four interceptions. When he missed, he missed badly. He threw 50 times and to be honest I think his arm is just dead tired. He took almost all of the scrimmage snaps in camp and has thrown more than he ever has. He did make plays and looks like a capable back-up who will force Richard Kovalcheck to keep working hard to maintain his role as the starter.

Many people came out to the spring game to get their first glimpse of B.J. Vickers and the JC wide-out had exactly zero catches. Just two weeks ago I was ready to dub him "Real Deal" but he has hit the wall it seems. In junior college Vickers never had to work so hard and it looks to me as if he is just worn down. He'll need to keep working hard in the strength and conditioning program so as to avoid these same problems come fall. Vickers should be just fine by the start of the season. By then he should be the instant fix to the offense that he looked like two weeks ago.

Mike Bell continued to be a bit of a maddening player. He rushed for 109 yards on just nine carries, but did three of the things you could put in the Mike Bell drinking game. In order he: 1) fumbled 2) got run down on a long run 3) got hurt. Now to be honest, he wasn't bad at all. The fumble was out of bounds when the defender recovered it and should not have been a turnover. He got run down by a safety who was 20 yards away from the line of scrimmage and the injury was legit, a hyper extended knee.

Bell did prove that if Chris Henry is going to challenge for the starting spot that he has his work cut out for him. Bell is capable of breaking of a 20+ yard run at any time and is also a solid receiver out of the backfield. He can rush three straight times for no yards, then break one off for 50.

Henry could not get going in the game. He had a few nice carries and a score, but the rest of the time it looked as if the defense all but knew where he was going. Talking to spring observers Henry was the star of practice. His blend of speed and power have really turned heads. On Saturday he was rarely able to hit the line of scrimmage without defensive penetration. Henry will get his share of carries, but was not able to show what he can do in the Spring Game.

Anthony Johnson again showed flashes of what he can be. He's big and physical and when he hangs onto the ball he can make things happen. They really like to hit him on short passes and let him run and run over people.

Mike Jefferson had one really nice catch and then took a vicious hit from Dominic Patrick. He was down a moment, but returned to the game later.

Bobby McCoy has had an up and down spring, a lot due to his doing double duty with football and track. His speed is very intriguing.

The receiver who really turned some heads was Gerold Rodriguez. Rodriguez had not done a whole lot in public scrimmages, but made three tough catches in the spring game, two for scores. It looks like what he lacks in size he makes up for in quickness and with his hands.

On defense Ronnie Palmer has been a revelation. We all though coming out of high school that he could be special and he looks to be living up to the hype. He is all over the field and could be a tackling machine in the mold of Lance Briggs.

Patrick showed that he can lay the wood. That kid is a hitter. He almost looks like a linebacker out there. He needs to get a little bit better in coverage, but he looks to be more than capable of carrying on the tradition of big hitters that Darrell Brooks and Lamon Means are reestablishing.

One player who had a pretty good game was LB Akin Akinniyi. Not much is expected of him, but he was credited for four tackles, but it sure seemed like his name was called a lot on Saturday.

Antoine Cason continues to get better. He was solid as a freshman and should be among the Pac-10's better corner backs next year. He can cover, hit and has a feel for where the ball is.

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