Spring Scrimmage Report

JCTigerfan took his camera gear and his notebook to share these observations with his fellow Internet Tiger fans. Clearly, the Tigers are faster, more intense and deeper than they were at this time last year. Take it away JC...!

To preface this, I am not a football guru. I have only won my fantasy league twice out of ten.

Here we go....

Walked in to the stadium at 8:45 with some players and some players parents. Many players were already warming up and practicing.

A horn blew at 9 am sharp. The team divided into unit groups for practice. Emphasis was placed on the punting game. The practicing was game-like, quick, and efficient. The assistant coaches were hovering closely and constantly shouting instructions, directions and comments on technique. Harvey seemed to punt ~45 yards with lots of hang time, Gohsler 40-42 yards. The long snappers were not perfect. Some of the punts may have been sub par because of the long snappers.

9:15 TEAM STRETCH

Then Special Teams Live action drills with both the punting and punt blocking units. Our punt return unit flat out gets after it. If the snap is off or the punter is a little slow, the punter can expect to eat the football. During these drills Gohsler averaged 35-40 yds, line drive, while Brock Harvey averaged 40-45 yds with decent hang time.

9:35 Place kicking- I don't like to speak negatively about our athletes so I won't say much. This is currently our Achilles heal. I think we will make most of our extra points. A big concern would be low trajectory kicks being blocked and run back for 6 points. Lambert seemed to be better when compared to Wheeler, but I am nervous.

Then the game began....

I found that I could not analyze more than one position at a time. So...

Quarterbacks

Brad Smith - Decisive, confident, excellent (quick) footwork, able to quickly plant and throw. Nice touch, crisp, sharp accurate. I can't asses his speed well because he never ran full speed when I was concentrating on him. He always seemed to have both feet planted when throwing. Threw some very nice passes, but had a few misses.

Kirk Farmer - His first few attempts were disappointing, but he seemed to improve as the day progressed. He seemed to be under pressure a lot. I am not sure if that was because the 2nd team D-line was a lot better than the 2nd team O-line. Some people near me would groan when he would throw it 5 yards out of bounds, but with Ming and Co flying after you, sometimes it was the right play. Early on he made a very accurate pass over the middle that arrived at the poor receiver/tight end just in time for the receiver to get demolished by Wade. A brutal hit. The crowd went wild. As the scrimmage progressed, Farmer gained accuracy. He made some very nice passes when receivers were open, and sometimes he made passes that were low and away when the needed to be low and away. I thought his best play was the touchdown to Gage. He dropped back, set, looked off the D-backs, then threw a strike. I don't remember him looking off the D-backs last year. I feel that both quarterbacks, if they continue to work their tails off, will be ready to shine come the Illinois game.

Santino Riccio - Great armstrength. Threw a very long pass while off balance (shouldn't have been thrown it, but impressive distance). Then threw two very,very nice long outs. He has excellent potential, not quite ready, but lots of potential.

Receivers/Ends

Justin Gage runs great routes. gets open, has excellent hands and is tough to bring down. Should play on Sundays.

Marcus James - made a great catch when I was focusing on him.

J.D. Mcoy made two outstanding catches. I am not sure where he lined up at the start of the play, but one of the catches was a full speed shoestring pickup.

Ben Fredrickson - great catch of a very low pass by Riccio. Nice hands.

Baldwin...Made a good catch (25 yards) of a beautiful pass. Don't know who threw it.

Running Backs

Zack Abron - You all know the story. Runs very hard, fast, not blazing, there were almost never big holes. Solid.

Tim Starks - He made an excellent run, off misdirection, demonstrating good speed for significant yardage. I don't think he will break any tackles if being tackled by Ellison or Harden.

Offensive Line

Tough to grade. No huge holes. Some tackles for losses, but the offense was still able to move the ball. Focused on Droege for two plays in a row. 1st play he was schooled and the QB was running for his life. The next play Droege rode the defender up the field and the back ran for a large gain (this actually qualified as a big hole).

Defense

The first and second string defensive lines are outstanding. They did not get blown off the ball ever.

Attiyah Ellison - Awesome, had a play where he threw J.P. Hall aside (like a toy doll) and engulfed the runner. Not quite fast enough to catch Farmer from behind.

Cedric Harden - played very well. Had a series were he blew up a draw play and made the tackle for a loss, then he knocked down a pass. Was very active.

There were a lot of plays were the back was swallowed by three interior D-lineman for a one or two yard gain

Linebackers

"Very fast".

Best defensive play of the game James Kinney came flying in to wipe out a back who just caught a little swing pass. A tremendous hit. The coaches loved it, the crowd went wild, women and children cried.

Whip..Gary Anthony made a spectacular pick on a Riccio down and out.

Defensive Backs

Fast, good makeup speed, hit hard, sometimes the coverage gets blown or they are out of position. This will improve with time and experience.

Coaching staff-they are into it. Top flight. Nebraska will wish they had this crew. Intensity level..Very high.

Overall Evaluation of Defense

This defense will stack up well against Nebraska. We are deep enough on the D-line that we should not get fatigued in the second half. Our strengths, D-line and linebackers should match up well with their offense. (99% run).

Overall Evaluation of Offense

I don't see us blowing teams off the ball at this point. However all is not lost. Our QBs should have enough time to throw and Gage will get open. The running game should be very workman like. I see a lot of long slow grind'em out drives. Overall Evaluation of Special Teams

Punting - During the scrimmage Gohsler had 2 45 yard punts, one with good hang time. Harvey did a little better in warm ups than during the game. Once we had a punt land on the 2 before rolling in to the end zone. Overall I think we will be ok here, not great unless we improve.

Kick-offs Not noted.

General Comments

Intensity level - This team is playing at a much higher intensity level than last year. Better speed, more team tackling, less arm tackling. (Am I dreaming? I think I am making them sound like the steel curtain).

It was fun to watch the team. What a day..... Awesome scrimmage!


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