Red-Black Report Card

Joe Yeager turns in his grades for the annual Spring Game.

Quarterbacks: Michael Brewer came from out of the blue to steal the show in the Black/Red. In all honesty, Brewer had not performed remotely this well in previous spring practices. Hitherto, he played solidly enough, but also looked somewhat tentative and anything but spectacular.

 

In the Red-Black Scrimmage Brewer looked like the number one guy rather than a quarterback resigned to a backup role. The question is, did Brewer turn the corner on Saturday, or was his performance an aberration?

 

Starter Seth Doege also had a good outing although Brewer overshadowed him. With the exception of the interception to Will Smith in which Doege simply didn't see the linebacker, Doege was quite sharp.

 

The only real downside to the quarterback play was a lack of touchdowns. But give some credit to the defense here.

 

Grade: B+

 

Running Backs: SaDale Foster must like scrimmages. He burst onto the scene in the team's first scrimmage of the spring, disappeared during regular workouts, and then shone brightly again in the Red Black Scrimmage. Foster has a nice burst, some of Eric Stephens' sneaky open-field moves, and he runs tough for a man his size. Foster has some Johnnie Mack to him.

 

Ronnie Daniels, on the other hand, was disappointing. Frankly, he looked sluggish and pedestrian, which totally belies the talent he possesses. Daniels now weighs 225 pounds, which is 15 pounds more than he should, and the excess weight clearly slows him down.

 

Grade: C+

 

Offensive Line: We suspected the offensive line might be the offense's weak link at this point, and that suspicion was confirmed in the scrimmage.

 

The offensive line could do very little with the defensive front seven for most of the first half. Holding penalties and false starts were plentiful, and quarterback pressure was ubiquitous. The pressure came from all directions, and even LaAdrian Waddle struggled in pass protection at times.

 

Fortunately, the line improved somewhat as the game went on, and run blocking was generally quite good.

 

Grade: C-

 

Receivers: Considering how depleted this unit really is, Neal Brown and Tommy Mainord must have been gratified by how it played.

 

Drops were scarce. I recall one mishandle by Tyson Williams, but that was just about it. The sleek, smooth strider Marcus Kennard had an excellent day and showed why it would be foolish to sleep on him. Williams had a very solid afternoon. Jakeem Grant displayed his lightning-in-a-bottle act (particularly on the fly sweep), and Javon Bell had the most explosive play of the game on a tunnel screen.

 

Grade: A-

 

Defensive Line: The most pleasant surprise of the scrimmage was the defensive line. While they were helped by frequent blitzes, the linemen nevertheless did manage to get much pressure on the quarterbacks.

 

Dartwan Bush shows signs of emerging as an elite pass rusher, and Branden Jackson is quickly staking claim to being Bush's partner in heat. Tackle Delvon Simmons was also active—sometimes a bit too active!—as he jumped offsides three times in addition to notching a pair of sacks and batting down a pass. Also impressive was the fact that the interior of the line did not wilt late in the scrimmage. Despite being light in the britches, the tackles and noseguards stood their ground well.

 

Grade: B+

 

Linebackers: If there were any skeptics doubting whether Will Smith is all he's cracked up to be, their ranks are surely depleted after the JUCO transfer's terrific performance in the Red-Black Scrimmage. Smith grabbed the lone interception of the afternoon, and was in on several tackles as well. He could be special.

 

In addition to Smith, Sam Eguavoen, Blake Dees, Justin Cooper and Pete Robertson all did some good things.

 

This group still gets out of position occasionally, but also plays fast enough to make up for most mistakes.

 

Grade: B+

 

Secondary:  The defensive backs gave up many completions but only once (Javon Bell's tunnel screen) yielded an explosive play. The secondary covered tightly, tackled well, and dealt out a few hard hits.

 

Cornelius Douglas concluded his sensational spring with a sensational scrimmage, Eugene Neboh played very well, Jarvis Phillips was solid, and Cody Davis also had a nice game. Derrick Mays, however, continues to struggle.

 

Grade: B


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