Understanding that the spring game is a culmination of the spring campaign and not just a single event, here are some of my own thoughts on the progress made by various players over the last four weeks.
- Most (if not all) observers of practice this spring will tell you that Alex Teich has had the best four weeks of any of the fullbacks on the roster. I think Navy fans saw this on Friday night. Teich made several nice runs and caught an 11-yard screen pass in which he made a nice open field move to cut back into the middle of the field. The sophomore reminds me a lot of Eric Kettani circa 2007 in terms of his running style, although I'd say Teich has arguably better lateral quickness. Despite his size he also hits the hole with great velocity and force. He certainly answered our questions about which fullback will have the leg up in becoming the heir apparent to Kettani, but will also have to show better consistency in handling the ball this summer to hold onto the job full-time.
- Don't rule out Jordan Eddington as a backup fullback, but Kevin Campbell and Vince Murray have both had solid springs and should duel in out for the backup fullback job into the summer. Murray showed off his typical quick feet in the Blue and Gold game, while Campbell also showed some very gritty, determined runs. Their styles actually compliment each other very well, and either could end up seeing reps once the season starts.
- Kriss Proctor and Mike Stukel confirmed what the staff has been saying all spring; noticeably that Proctor has a better feel for running the option at this point but that Stukel brings a degree of athleticism to the team that is better served on the field than on the bench. I thought both made some excellent runs during the scrimmage, with Stukel in particular showing off a tremendous burst between the tackles. If he can stay healthy and show consistency as a blocker than he could work his way into the "playing" rotation at slotback come fall.
- I would not read too much into the dropped passes by Mario Washington and Mike Schupp. Both have been reliable targets for Ricky Dobbs this spring and have more than proven their worth in the passing game. What I would read into on both dropped passes was the throws. Dobbs and Proctor put great touch on their respective passes, with Proctor perhaps answering some lingering questions about his throwing ability. He told me four weeks ago that improving his accuracy was a goal of his this spring, and while a few throws in the spring game will hardly prove one way or the other, he showed positive signs on Friday night.
- Corey James came into the spring looking like he might compete for a starting role at slotback, but he's really struggled with ball security and I think you saw that again on Friday night. His fumble did not help out his cause, and considering that he hasn't shown the explosiveness of Marcus Curry or does not have the experience of the Finnerty/Doyle combination leads me to think that he'll need a particularly good fall camp to work his way back up the depth chart.
- Is Caleb King this year's version of Tyler Simmons? It's tough to tell considering how often we've seen Navy ‘backers shoot the ‘A' gap in scrimmage action this spring, but if nothing else the built-like-a-tank King has put himself in position to be a special teams standout this coming fall. I love his intensity too.
- One guy not mentioned in the notes but who nevertheless had a very good spring game (as well as spring camp) was outside linebacker Jerry Hauburger. The junior out of Baltimore has really elevated his game since moving to the outside, and has shown outstanding athleticism and instincts when it comes to defending the option. On multiple occasions Hauburger either strung out option plays or ran down plays from the backside on Friday night, which is no small feat considering he was tracking down one of the fastest players on the roster in Mike Stukel. I'm intrigued to see Hauburger this summer, as fellow outside linebackers Craig Schaefer, Ram Vela, and Aaron McCauley also had good spring camps. Is this just a case of Navy's outside ‘backers having a natural advantage in playing against the option, or will this group see its spring success translate against other schemes? Right now I'm leaning towards the latter, as Craig Schafer has shown the ability to come in a replace Corey Johnson while Ram Vela continues to be the consummate underdog who will just out-hustle defenders. And that's not even accounting for Clint Sovie...