Chris Lewis, Kerry Carter and Casey Moore barely took more reps with the offense in this scrimmage than I did. Plain and simple, Buddy Teevens took it easy with those #1 guys. Though the #1 receivers and O-line still got a lot of work. Their presence in the scrimmage well past the early exit of Lewis et al. was a bounty for Kyle Matter and Ryan Eklund. Rather than getting reps with a more challenged #2 OL, these guys got good work to better simulate what personnel they would have around them should they need to fill in for Chris in a game. Both QBs showed they have challenges taking care of the ball, and feeling & reacting to defensive pressure. If the scrimmage were a game situation, they would have shown different faults, though: Kyle would have taken too many sacks, and Ryan would have thrown too many interceptions. All in all, Ryan did not make a good case in this scrimmage to be the #2 QB. He had some bad throws into coverage with no pass rush on him, which is a cardinal sin. To Ryan's credit, he made some very nice throws, including an absolutely gorgeous ball he dropped high over the top right into a streaking Gerren Crochet's arms for a touchdown. Kyle did a better job reading the coverages and finding his second and third options.
You did not see a lot of running the ball, but that was intentional. They did not want to go with full tackling on the backs, and thus gave more reps to the passing game. This has been a thread throughout training camp, which is important to note: the running game does not get much work when the tackling is kept light. Thus the mix of run and pass is not necessarily what you will see in games...
Another outstanding afternoon for the tight ends. Brett Pierce again is providing a great target and converting everything thrown his way. Well, almost everything. I did note a couple bad balls thrown high or behind him which he could not grab, but decent balls are still being sucked in by "The Black Hole" that is his hands.
Highlight plays on defense included a blitzing QB sack for Brian Brant, like a shot up the middle, a couple great breaking plays by TJ Rushing on the ball, a great read by Kevin Schimmelmann late in the scrimmage for an interception he might have returned 80 yards in a game, and a David Bergeron pick earlier in the scrimmage.
Fans in the stands got to see a few hints of the chicanery that may be in store with BuddyBall, though mum is the word on the plays...
Special teams was up and down, with some bad snaps and one really short field goal attempt. Though the bright spots were a long FG from Sgroi, and a 60-yard bomb from Eric Johnson.
You got to see most of the personnel on this roster, all the way from the starters to the complete freshman class. The only people who did not play were Caleb Bowman and Josiah Vinson, who are both looking at weeks to a couple of months of recovery and rehab after knee surgeries, plus Craig Albrecht, Michael Craven and Nick Sebes. More on their status below from Buddy...
After the scrimmage, I had the chance to talk with Buddy, and here are his reflections on the scrimmage:
- Not as clean and crisp as he would have liked, to be frank. "We had a couple snap and procedural problems... We had some passes just chucked up there." Buddy, other coaches, and the players said afterward that the stretch of two-a-days has taken a toll on guys. They're beat. They were not as crisp as they wanted to be. Good news is that Friday morning is a walk-through practice, and Saturday is a day off.
- His words for the o-line and the defense were better. "The offensive line pass-protected a little better today... The defense ran around really well today, swarming around the ball."
- Buddy chose his words carefully, but had some clear evaluations on the 2nd pair of QBs that played most of the scrimmage. "Kyle Matter did a good job overall... Ryan Eklund had some bright spots out there." In case you are not adept at reading between the lines, that is coach-speak for saying that Kyle was much more consistent.
- On the emphasis that Kyle and Ryan received, relative to Chris' time at QB: "You always want to find out who your number two is... Chris has seen an awful lot of time this camp already."
- On the evaluations of the freshmen quarterbacks, and their ability to challenge the Kyle and/or Ryan: "The freshmen are mentally a ways away with what they need to pick up. Athletically, they are very talented."
- The overall aim for the practice was to run more real game situations, with 50-60 snaps. They were not all continuous, so in the stands it may have looked a little crazy. One note was the two minute drill, which in Buddy's words "was not clean." If you haven't picked up on it yet, words like 'crisp' and 'clean' are frequent in Buddy's vocabulary to describe his optimal flow and precision of his team. If he says something is "not clean," he is disappointed.
- Buddy considers coming out of the scrimmage with no injuries to be a big success, though he did hold out a couple guys who could have played. Michael Craven has been in and out of practice as Buddy is being cautious with a "dinged shoulder." Craig Albrecht could have gone in the scrimmage, but Buddy was again erring on the side of caution while he "allowed some younger guys to show what they can do." Buddy is pretty confident in what Craig can do, and feels safe in keeping him from the scrimmage. I expect Craig will be in full action during the next 7 days of BC preparation, though. Maybe the one guy who really was held out from the scrimmage, who is best off not having played, is Nick Sebes. He came down on his heel with a catch in the back of the endzone the other day and bruised it. It is unclear right now how and when that bruise will heal.