Thursday scrimmage notes and analysis

Notes and analysis from the Horns' Thursday scrimmage:

Chris Simms completed six of his 13 pass attempts for 89 yards and one INT. During the team's last scrimmage at the stadium back before Spring Break, the senior QB did not throw downfield until his 14th attempt. Thursday, Simms went (relatively) deep on his second toss. After throwing a ball to Sloan Thomas, which the receiver dropped, in the left flat on his first attempt, Simms fired a bullet to Thomas just inside of defender Monti Collier and just in front of safety help Rufus Harris deep down the left hash on his next attempt. The junior wideout held on this time for a 27-yard gain. Simms' next two completions went to B.J. Johnson, the first for 21 yards on a sideline route and the second for 17 yards on a post pattern. B.J. caught a 14-yarder later in the scrimmage and finished with those three catches for 52 yards. The Simms interception, though, came on a short attempt for Sloan in the right flat. Derrick Johnson stepped directly into the throwing lane and picked off the pass near midfield and took it back the distance for a defensive TD. Simms also threw the ball into the chest of DE O.J. McClintock on a play similar to the one that Austin Sendlein turned into an INT in a previous scrimmage. McClintock, though, couldn't get his hands on the ball to make the pick. Despite those miscues, Simms "had his best day," according to Mack Brown. "He made some plays with his feet and some throws that were really, really good," the head coach said. The "made some plays with his feet" comment referred to Simms' movement in the pocket rather than any scrambling he did. . . .

Chance Mock, like Simms, went deep early, looking downfield on his first pass attempt, but his misfire on that throw seemed to set the tone for the entire day. The sophomore completed just two passes in seven attempts, a six-yarder to Michael Ungar and a 13-yarder to Brian Carter. Matt Nordgren connected on one of his two attempts. . . .

Walk-on Stevie Stigall opened the scrimmage with the second-team defense at SLB and registered a sack of Nordgren. Chase Pittman, getting some late snaps at right DE, also turned in a sack of Nordgren. Aurmon Satchell blew by Alfio Randall and sacked Mock while Miguel McKay got to Simms on the first O's final possession (see the Brett Robin info below for the lines on each side of the ball when McKay earned his sack). . . .

"I was really pleased with all three running backs," Brown said post-scrimmage. "Brett Robin and Anthony Johnson did a lot of good things at the end and Cedric (Benson) looked really good on the first 10 plays before we took him out." On the first O's first drive (against the second D), Benson carried four straight times, picking up nine around the right edge, five off of right tackle, four on a pitch left where he trailed LT Robbie Doane, and four more around the left edge and into the end zone. Robin and Johnson took over at tailback for the remainder of the scrimmage. Robin did some nice work up the middle, picking up 47 yards on nine carries. Twenty-one of those yards came on a ones vs. ones series late in the scrimmage. At the time, the OL consisted of LT Alfio Randall, LG Tillman Holloway, C Jason Glynn, RG Lionel Garr and RT Jonathan Scott. LDE Kaelen Jakes, DTs Marcus Tubbs and McKay, RDE Sendlein and the starting three LBs comprised the defensive front seven. Consecutive Robin runs of five and eight yards came over the right side of the OL and at the left side of the DL where the inexperienced Jakes resided. Anthony Johnson rushed 14 times, including a 24-yard TD scamper on the scrimmage's final offensive play. He also took a pitch for three yards on an option play from Simms on the next-to-last possession while working with the one offense. Some of the Horns' running game success should probably be attributed to the frequent use of two tight end formations during the scrimmage. . . .

With the wind at his back, Richmond McGee sent the opening kickoff of the scrimmage five yards deep into the south end zone of the stadium. McGee's next three tries went into the teeth of a pretty strong northerly wind (approximately 15 mph) and the walk-on sent his first effort to the eight, his second a good ways out of bounds around the 10, and his third to the left front pylon. On that last kick, Carter fielded the ball and immediately stepped out of bounds at the one, a play that resulted in the sophomore wideout getting an minutes-long arm-around-the-shoulder talking to by WR coach Darryl Drake. Dan Smith attempted one kickoff, sending an into-the-wind effort to about the 20. Both Cedric Griffin and Michael Huff showed off their kickoff return abilities with solid run-backs during the scrimmage. . . .

Dusty Mangum made his first two field goals attempts (from 32 yards into the wind and from 37 yards with the wind) before pushing a 32-yard into-the-wind effort wide right. He immediately followed that up, though, by splitting the uprights from the same distance into the wind. David Pino hit both of his 32-yard attempts, one into and one with the wind. Matt McFadden's lone try, from 37 yards, sailed wide right. . . .

The success of the punters almost solely depended on the direction of their punts. With the benefit of the wind, Brian Bradford sent his first effort 40 yards but his into-the-wind tries went just 24 and 32 yards (with a 14-yard roll!). Justin Smith continued his streak of strong performances, hitting a 42-yarder and then blasting a ball all the way from the 28 to the opposite 17, where it bounced and rolled to the six for a 66-yarder. Returner Nathan Vasher tried to race back to catch it, but he slipped just before the ball landed, allowing it to bound towards the goalline. Bradford also demonstrated nice touch on a pooch punt, stopping the ball on the nine after punting from the 33 into the strong north wind.


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