Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley walked onto the field with wide receiver Jordan Lasley, and they were already jawing each other - good-naturedly. Lasley was smack-talking to coach. He started dancing a little and telling coach, "This is what I got for your D today coach, this is it." Coach replied, "Just be quiet. You know, you aren't that good at what your doing there" (his dancing). Jordan shot back with, "I'll be bringing it today, coach. Just so you know." Bradley: "You just stay on your side of the field today, OK? Just stay on your side today." (the offensive side of the field). Lasley: "Aww...we're just having fun here, coach. It's all good." Bradley: "You just stay on your side today." Then coach looked at me and winked, and said, "They never learn," and smiled as he walked away. I liked the swagger by Lasley.
Referees were out. 8 of them in total, plus a supervisor of refs was there as well. One of the ref's turned around (during the scrimmage) and yelled at the supervisor, "How do I look?" and they laughed. Then the supervisor told the person next to him about the ref's stance and what he meant by the comment. Nice to see refs working on their game as well - not that they need it.
I watched the offense (QBs and WRs) again to see if anything new could be picked up. Sure enough, they didn't disappoint. Tracy Pierson already wrote about how the offense looked, so this part will be examples of why things are getting exciting offensively. It starts with quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo. He is a breath of fresh air, for sure. He is exacting and coaching the QBs hard. He wants them technically accurate. The offense is much more complicated than in the past, but coach is working hard to make things easier for the QBs. There are a lot of options for them to think through, but the passing basics are the same. Coach Tui tells them that as well. "This will be just like ..." is heard a few times. But, again, he is demanding without yelling. I haven't heard him bark at anyone yet.
Very early in the practice, offensive coordinator Kennedy Polamalu got irritated and called the entire offense together. He did bark at them. I didn't notice the, "infraction" - it wasn't obvious to me. But it was to him. He had a quick trigger and brought the issue up REAL quick. Then they went back to work. Between Tui and Polamalu, the offense is making great strides in a short time. They are clearly making excellent use of practice film, and creating/adjusting individual group drills to improve in those weak areas. It showed up today, for sure.
Some examples of Tui coaching: WRs and QBs were working on fade routes in the end zone. Tui wanted a certain trajectory and spotting of the ball. Rosen was awesome in his accuracy. One time, he didn't loft it properly and Tui told him, "Too much air, Josh." Next rep, he was perfect again. Tui then said, "Perfect Josh, that was perfect!" On one throw, an incompletion, Tui told both QB and WR, "Don't change a thing. That's exactly what I want to see." When they started working on back-shoulder throws, Tui was very demonstrative. He grabbed a WR to be the defender on him as a WR, and showed the timing and location of the ball he wanted. He emphasized the exact location he wanted the ball thrown to. He wanted the throw just over helmet high. The ball was to (obviously) be thrown to the outside, and the WR was to jump and catch it at his facemask level with his hands. At the end of the drill, he told the group, "We're going to do that every day...every day."
The next drill was goal line (6-yard line) with the WRs running 10-yards deep, then cutting to the outside on a comeback to the goal line cone. A very specific route. The throw was supposed to be leading the WR to the cone, and caught maybe a yard in the end zone. He was exacting in where the ball should be thrown. At one point, two consecutive WRs dropped their passes. Both times, they reached with one hand. Receivers coach Erick Yarbers made sure that never happened again. Tui was running the drill, but Yarbers was making sure he and Tui were completely aligned for maximum benefit for all. He yelled to the WRs, "That's twice that shit happened. Twice. No more reaching with one hand. Two hands dammit!" Next throw was also incomplete, but Tui told everyone, "That's a good throw. We can live with that miss. It was out of bounds. We can live with that."
On the next drill, the WR does a curl of 10-15 yards, then delays a count before scrambling back inside across the face of the QB. Once again, Tui was exacting on how that ball was to be thrown. First he told them, "Do not lead the WR. Don't lead them. Hit them in the midline." Then, he grabbed a WR to show what he meant. Everyone saw that he wanted the WR to get "big" and force the defender to try and go through the WR to get to the ball - telling them, "We'll get the flag. So hit them at the midline. Do not lead them."
There's one last drill to describe. A different type of goal-line drill. The QBs were to intentionally thrown behind the WR. This was not a back-shoulder type thing, it was a drill to force the WR to adjust to the ball. The QBs would throw to the wrong side every time. I bring these drills up because all of them were shown and used effectively during the scrimmages.
The last few days, WRs were having trouble getting separation off the line of scrimmage. So, Yarbers worked a lot on rip moves for the WRs. One technique he preached was on how high to take the rip hand. Coach asked, "Where do we rip?" Answer was, "Above eye level." Another example of using film, and correcting the next practice. And, it looks like that worked as well.
As Tracy stated, the offense was clicking today. At one point, I know the defense felt the pressure by the offense, because they started talking to themselves to improve. I heard the defense say, "Pick it up now. Let's go...let's go! Pick it up now!" The offense was rolling at the time.
At the end of the first 11-on-11 scrimmage, the offense moved down the field and had the ball at the 7-yard line. Head coach Jim Mora came up to the defense and yelled to them, "The game is on the line now. We're up by 6 and need a play. Stop them, defense. You gotta stop them on this play." The OL false-started, and the ball moved back to the 12. Then Rosen threw a textbook fade, just like they practiced it, to tight end Nate Iese in the right back corner of the end zone. But safety Tahaan Goodman was able to get over and knock it away. Good route, good throw, excellent defense.
Most noteworthy things I saw from the scrimmages Thursday were the number of yards we were able to get running the ball. Quite a few more holes today and especially in the middle. If the offense can consistently get 3+ yards in the middle, this has the makings of a scary offense. Both Rosen and back-up quarterback Mike Fafaul are thriving in this "thinking man's" offense. It just needs to balance the attack by running, and needs to be able to run between the guards effectively to make that happen. The variety of plays and alignments is pretty exciting to see.
As TP said, we looked very very good today offensively.