Spring Game: Observations of the Offense

BearsIllustrated.com columnist Collin Lotter gives his take on Baylor's new offense displayed in the Green/Gold game played Saturday ay Floyd Casey Stadium.

Spring Game Observations: Offense

Well to begin the day it was obvious to everyone who attended the game, the offense started off really slow. The defense had their way with them by being aggressive on jumping routes, pass rushes or staying at home on trick plays. My immediate thoughts were, "Man, this might be a long season if the line can't protect," which is what happened on the first ten series or so. The offensive line seem to get confused on assignments for different pass rushes early on and many times a defensive end would go untouched right to the quarterback. It appears with the wider splits between them, this has lead to a difficult adjustment to make. It's harder for one lineman to recover on a missed block and it puts more pressure on them to block the man straight up one on one. Jason Smith did appear to have a strong day though and if you noticed a couple of times he showed he was really mobile by getting outside to pick up a linebacker on draw.

The quarterbacks both started out very shaky and neither really separated themselves early; however, by the time it was over both put together nice plays to grade out for a passable day at the office. Shawn Bell struggled with the pass rush coming at first, but was able to connect with Trent Shelton for at the time a meaningless 8 yards. Though after this play was completed the offense would start to move the ball consistently and was keeping the defense honest the rest of the day. Bell hit Shelton on a couple of occasions and then hooked up with Mikail Baker on what was one of Bell's best passes in his Baylor carrier. It was obvious that he has a stronger arm that will allow to stretch the field in future endeavors next year and his timing has gotten better as well. Blake Szymanski seemed to be a little rattled when the scrimmage began and was hurrying his throws quite a bit. Although by the end of the day he was able to show some positives and why he will be able to lead this team when his time comes. His main problem right now is he holds the ball too long in the pocket and fails to use his mobility at times. He also will put to much on the ball causing an overthrow or a short pass in the ground. However, the two things I really like about him in this game were his speed and toughness. When he did decide to run, he possesses good speed and quick lateral movement downfield; which could be a great asset for a strong pass rush. Another impressive thing about him is his fearlessness. He wasn't afraid of anything or anybody on that field today and proved on several plays, whether it be throwing a pass into heavy coverage or hitting Anthony Airline on the 1 yd line after an interception when most quarterbacks would just let him score. These are intangibles that you can't teach in quarterbacks.

The wide receivers had a solid day overall and Dominique Zeigler will have the play that people will remember with the best pass of the day, completing a 77 yd touchdown pass to Trent Shelton. Zeigler has so many attributes that can be used and he is multi-talented which will keep the defense at bay this season. Trent Shelton had the best day overall chipping in 6 catches for over 100 yards in the game. He was able to get open downfield most consistently and really possesses quick foot-speed running routes. Mikail Baker, Trey Payne and Terrance Parks also made key plays on a couple drives proving that this position has tons of depth that will be used for ample amounts of times this season.

Running backs did the best they could against heavy penetration from the defensive front seven. When they were able to get free both Brandon Whittaker and Paul Mosley were able to cause some damage downfield. Mosley who has been a little banged up this spring caught a great screen pass and took 15 yards before laying out over two members of the secondary to score. He was a load to bring down and grinded extra yards after every point of contact. Whittaker is the quickest guy on the team and in the open field, he has the ability to make any play turn into six points. He is also tough to bring down but in a different form than Mosley. He gives defenders problems with his quick lateral movements. On one play in the game he sprung backwards leading to Nick Moore and Paul Tolbert hitting each other and then carried on with his run. Brandon also showed his ability to be a receiving threat downfield nearly completing a 40 yd pass from Bell that would've resulted in a touchdown. Cordney Smith might of open some eyes today as well. This guy could be something special; he has a strong frame and quickness along with good awareness finding holes. He scored multiple times in the game and torched the backup defense toward the end of the scrimmage.

The kicking game left a little to be desired for the fans today. Ryan Havens saw tons of action early kicking eight field goals in the first thirty minutes. He ended up going 5 for 8, however what worries most people is that some of the kicks didn't seem to come off clean. There were a couple plays after the kick it seem the holder and the kicker had miscommunication. This area is pivotal for the team success and needs to improve before the season during fall practice.

Notes
-I talked to Paul Mosley prior to the game and he said he had some back pains throughout the spring but is feeling a lot better.
- Big props to George Shelton (Trent's Father) this guy is such a good fan and makes the games so entertaining with his leading of the chants and cheers from all sections in the crowd.

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