Well, another Spring Practice is
under our belt and now it's time to analyze just how we actually fair at each
position. I've talked about my
rankings with another practice regular near the end of the spring and he tends
to mostly agree with my analysis but thinks that I may be a bit harsh with my
grading at times.
The Spring Game mostly held to form for how folks played during the entire spring, so I didn't need to make much of an adjustment after that particular practice. It just helped to affirm some of the things I saw throughout spring. After having some more time to reflect on our spring efforts, I'll start my Spring Football Report Card, beginning with Quarterback.
Unfortunately I am starting off with a position with one of the worst grades of the spring. This is also unfortunate because this is probably the single most important position anywhere on the field. There are no excuses here really; we returned all 3 Quarterbacks from last year and they were all healthy.
Not only that, we added a true freshman that enrolled early just to try and get his feet wet before the rest of his class joins up in fall.
So what went wrong?
Well A.J. Suggs already had his chance and didn't perform up to expectations in the 2002 season. Clearly the coaches intended to reduce his snaps this spring in order to see what others could do. That means that the reins were basically handed over to Damarius Bilbo.
Bilbo struggled throughout most of the spring but was starting to really turn things around toward the end. I saw him making bad decisions, and not putting the receivers in the best position to catch the balls too many times during practice. He has a great arm but his accuracy has left something to be desired at times.
In his favor though, Bilbo has a good presence in the huddle, has clear leadership qualities and has improved greatly in his snaps. Not only is he having a better connection with the Center, he has a good cadence and will catch defenders offsides a good bit.
Also, it should be pointed out that all spring Bilbo & the other QBs played with a battered offensive line that was without the starting left side of Dorsey & Robinson. Bilbo showed a lot of improvement in the last week of spring. He was starting to look more comfortable and was making more plays but he also continued to be inconsistent.
Suggs played like you would expect throughout the spring. He was actually more consistent that Bilbo. Bilbo just happens to have a much higher upside than Suggs at this point. Also, Suggs seems to be the kind of guy that does relate his play in practice well during actual game time. He seems to get shaken by pressure.
Brian Camp is another veteran QB still in the mix but further down the depth chart. This spring he continued to play as a steady but unspectacular backup. Personally I'd feel okay with him in the game if we were in a real bind but not if we had to lean on him for any extended period of time.
Physically, Al Peña looks like a true QB. He has good size and an above average arm. He just seemed overwhelmed for most of spring practice. It must be a tough situation to be in for him be learning a new offense and to be the only incoming freshman at practice. He also was joining a group of QBs that was entirely in tact from last season but Peña has some work to do before being considered a serious contender in our QB battle.
I still think there is a possibility for highly touted incoming freshmen QBs Patrick Carter or Reggie Ball to get into the mix come fall. Bilbo is definitely the one to beat, but his performance in spring left some room for an outstanding performance from one of the two incoming freshmen to unseat him.