Spring Game Observations
Like last year, the 2008 Spring Game was another low-scoring affair. I don't know if this is a sign that the offense took a step back or whether the defense really stepped up their game or simply a factor from the no-contact rule on quarterbacks
There were several standout defensive players throughout the game. Of course we all expected George Selvie to have a big game, collecting three sacks. Jarriett Buie topped that with a four sack game although a few were hand tags, and 9 tackles. Patrick Hampton was also impressive with 3 sacks, with 8 tackles, and showed that he could get some significant playing time this fall.
Chris Robinson made some nice plays including the first quarter interception off of Grant Gregory. He really did a good job of reading the quarterback's eyes on that play. He held up in coverage decently and showed that he is not just a pass rusher but can play the pass as well.
However, the strength of his game lies in his instincts. He was constantly around the ball, finishing with 8 tackles, and making several plays in the backfield.
Brouce Mompremier did very well at the MIKE position. He was diagnosing plays really well. He seemed fluid out there and I feel he could play the position effectively if needed to. There was a particularly nice read he made on the running back with about 2:00 left in the first quarter. He met and him at the LOS and stopped the play immediately. Shortly after, he made a great play in coverage where he stopped Jamar Taylor on a very short gain after a catch.
One encouraging sign was that Kion Wilson, who was held out a good potion of practice with an injured ankle, got into the game for some spot playing time.
The corners looked pretty impressive for the most part. There were a few long passing plays but I think those were blown coverages by the safeties. Jerome Murphy looked pretty solid as expected and Quenton Washington and Tyson Butler looked good as well. They still have some work to do but they are going in the right direction.
--Tyson Butler made a great hit on Jason Sherman and stopped him in his tracks.
--Tyller Roberts finished with 3 tackles a forced fumble and a fumble recovery
Aside from cornerback, one of the biggest concerns for the defense was the depth at defensive tackle. I think a lot of those fears and concerns were relieved after their performance. The defensive line won the battle up front for pretty much the entire game. Two young players that had excellent games were Sampson Genus and Keith McCaskill. Sampson Genus showed that he needs to be double teamed on every play. When left one-on-one he was getting great penetration and when occupying two gaps, he really freed up Keith McCaskill to make some great plays. McCaskill had back-to-back sacks and was being a constant disruption in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage. I think the defensive line could really be big strength for this team come this fall and a defensive tackle rotation of Terrell McClain, Aaron Harris, Sampson Genus, Keith McCaskill and Darren Powe could be very effective.
Overall the defense did really well and showed flashes of greatness. They still have some work to do, but I think this is a good measure of progress and allows them to focus on what they need to do come this summer.
There were some nice things on offense even though they struggled to get the ball in the end zone. There were a few good drives that stalled in to field goals.
On the first offensive play of the Green team's drive, Grothe hit Andrew Ketchel for nice 47-yard catch and run. Other than that, Grothe connected on his four other passes to finish the game 5-5 with 70 yards passing. You could tell Matt was a little frustrated because a big part of his game was negated because of the one-hand touch rule on him and Grant Gregory.
Grant Gregory started the game off a bit shaky by throwing an interception to Chris Robinson but aside from a few inaccurate passes he did well and showed off some impressive arm strength by rifling a pass between two defenders. He also did a nice job on scrambling and rolling out of the pocket to make plays, finishing with 14-for-22 for 190 yards and one interception.,
We got a chance to catch our first glimpse of Alton Voss and it was great to see him wearing a contact jersey. On his first play he made a nice read option and picked up solid yardage. He seemed to execute the read option very well. He also showed glimpses of his passing ability by hitting Jason Sherman with a great 17 yard pass out a scramble, and going 3-for-4 for 29 yards but that's still a part of his game that needs some work.
The offensive line did not do too particularly well on both teams. Jake Sims got beat several times off the snap by Jarriett Buie. Both units had trouble pass blocking and did not consistently open running lanes. Ryan Schmidt was one of the few standouts on the line for the Green Team and had several good blocks throughout the game. The struggles of the offensive line can be attributed to the fact that it was a make-shift unit on both sides and we should definitely see an improvement once the line is set. I would not be too concerned but there is still room for improvement.
The game wasn't an offensive outpouring, but there were some high points to take note of.
--Sophomore running back Mike Ford, led all backs with 56 yards on 14 carries including a long of 20-yards. Ford looks stronger and much quicker when he hit the hole and looks poised to follow up on his freshman season.
--Sophomore Jamar Taylor who also looks bigger and well conditioned finished the night with 15 yards.
--The leading receiver for both teams was Taurus Johnson, who had with six catches for 68 yards, and was the most impressive looking receiver on the nigh., and can do different things offensively, picking up five yards on an end-around. T.J looks like a beast out there, and as long as he can get involved early, he can make it look easy.
--Tight end Cedric Hill returned from injury had a good night, catching 3 passes for 47yards and made some nice blocks as well. Cedric looks stronger and bigger then ever, and while being moved around on the line, sometimes as an H-back, can cause mismatches for the defense.
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