I took in the last public scrimmage along with Big Dog and former defensive tackle Marty Mayes. Many thanks to BD and Marty for their astute observations of the game, some of which are incorporated below.
The quarterbacks were under a lot of pressure most of the game. I think that said something both about our offensive line and our defensive line. Neither Ryan Hart nor Ted Trump were able to get into much of a flow. Both handled the pressure intelligently and made some completions but this was not an offensive show like the last scrimmage. Back up Anthony Cali had a beautiful 30 yard completion to Sam Johnson but Cali didn't seem as assured or confident at QB as either Hart or Trump.
The guy who really impressed at QB, however, was true freshman Terrence Shawell. This kid is the real deal. He plays with great confidence and has a live arm. One of the most impressive passes of the day was at 25 yard rocket of a completion over the middle. Shawell has an arm.
He also moves well in the pocket and throw accurate passes under pressure and even off balance. On one play he was being chased and had to throw the ball off balance and across his body. He dumped it off nicely to an open receiver. Late in the game he was throwing some questionable passes that might better not have be thrown. Overall, though, Terrence is a guy with definite game potential in the future.
The quarterbacks found themselves under pressure all night.
This was more of a defensive day that an offensive day. However, the running backs showed some talent. Justise Hairston is a big, fast kid who can generally make two yards all on his own when the hole isn't there. Marcus Jones showed some excellent open field running with a couple of long runs and used his strength to add on yards when defenders finally got a hold of him. Clarence Pittman is the same running back that he was last year. That means he is fast, reads the defense well but needs openings in the line to be effective. Expect to see Brian Leonard a lot on swing passes out of the backfield. He is a runaway truck once he gets the ball. He showed soft hands on pass plays designed to get him in the open field.
Because of the pressure by the defensive line there wasn't much to watch in terms of the receivers. Most of the action was to the tight ends. Sam Johnson looked good. He is a big, powerfully built kid with good hands and a rugged running style after the catch. Clark Harris caught a ball and rambled 35 yards with it before being caught just short of the endzone. Ed Jordan has added some muscle to his frame and will add depth at this position. The Knights lost LJ this season but they are not hurting at this position.
This will be the key to the season and the offensive line play was spotty. Too many times kids were being stood straight or just plain beaten on blocking assignments. There is some size and talent at this position but the line will have to play better than this in game one, only two weeks away.
Gary Gibson had an excellent game. On one running play designed to go to the far outside. He fought off a block, ran down the entire length of the line, turned the corner and nailed the running back for no gain. On passing plays Gibson was repeatedly at the forefront of the line surge that bedeviled Rutgers QB's all game long.
Other players of note. Luis Rivas and Raheem Orr on the pass rush.
With most of the work being done in the trenches there was not a lot to note. Berk Hutchinson has great speed but is still learning the game. On one play he blew outside contain but was able to use his foot speed to run the QB out of bounds. Brian Hohmann closed a nice hole with a monster hit on Justise Hairston which was heard throughout the stadium.
Bill Beckford is built
Again, the defensive line did most of the work for the dbacks. Nonetheless there is a lot of speed on the field in this secondary. They move well, cover well and use their speed to come up quickly on run support.
Mike Cortese hit field goals of 55 and 48 yards. Ryan Sands hit one from about 30 yards out. On the negative side one attempted FG was blocked. Joe Radigan boomed a couple of 45 yard punts which had great hang time. On the the other hand one of his punts would have been blocked in a game due to a bad snap. Also, Joe shanked a couple out of bounds. His leg power is clearly there but the punt unit has to get more consistent both in terms of the snapping and the punting.
Mike Cortese showed that he can do the job
The team did not look terribly sharp. There were a lot of penalties and the crispness shown in the spring game wasn't there tonight. Part of the lack of sharpness could have been in the nature of the game tonight. Everyone played and every unit (down to three deep) got to see considerable time. Still, the Rutgers first team has to regain the type of sharp execution that they showed in the spring in order for this season to be successful.
- Neither Nate Robinson nor J'vonne Parker played. Both are huge. Robinson is truly an impressive physical specimen. At first I didn't know who he was. I looked up his number (99) on my scorecard because he was (with the exception of Parker) the biggest defensive lineman I saw. He is a legitimate 6-4 or 6-5. He is not fat either. The kid is just plain built. In terms of pure physique he is the second most impressive player on the squad.
Second most impressive?
The most impressive player is Bill Beckford. Beckford is a muscle with legs attached to it. For fans who remember Wes Robinson, Beckford is even better put together than that.
- Expect the new offensive to use some
misdirection on pass plays. The depth in big tight ends will give RU reliable
and powerful receivers to dump the ball to on plays flowing to one side, but
actually designed to go to the other side. Also look for RU to try to match up
Brian Leonard with linebackers and defensive backs on short swing passes.
Leonard is a bull who will muscle his way for extra yardage. The Knights will
try to get these power guys mismatched with smaller defensive players to chip
away at opponents for short gains while setting up longer pass plays down
- Overall there is definitely more talent and size. Now Schiano must hone the offensive line and sharpen up execution. If he does both this could be an interesting season.
Mike and the Big Dog's LLC