The QB play may not have been stellar by either Travis Dixon (who threw 4 interceptions last night) or Jarrod Jackson, who seems to be having quite a hard time this spring. But Dack Ishii continues to impress me with his leadership and control of the offense. Dack is easily the most complete QB competing for the Rebels in the spring while 2006 starter Rocky Hinds rehabs a knee injury.
Here are some more observations from last night's scrimmage:
** I have already talked about Dixon's struggles throwing the ball but I have another big concern with Travis' game right now. He stands WAY too tall in the hole. For those of you who have seen Travis play, you'll know he is pretty shifty with his cuts in the open field by using an array of cut's where he jukes out defenders with a fake around the shoulders. Unfortunately, Dixon is playing that way between the tackles and that is a recipe for a concussion. He is getting away with it so far this spring (because the Rebel defenders are simply taking it easy and wrapping him up for the most part) but if he doesn't learn to get small in the hole he is going to get pounded in a game.
** As poor as the QB play was at times yesterday, the UNLV receivers are getting open and have some seams to run in. This offense can really work but the players have to work to make it two-dimensional. I think our running game will be very good with Peeples (who is a lot bigger this year) and Summers but we need someone to step up and deliver the ball to this very talented WR group.
**Great job by WR Rodelin Anthony. I enjoyed seeing him have a good day. Rod is a great young man who is working very hard to improve his game. Had a nice 61-yard TD reception (and outran the defense in doing so) and caught Jeremy Geathers from behind on a 51-yard fumble recovery return. This kid sure can run.
**Frank Summers is a beast. Summers rushed for nearly 90-yards on just nine carries and none of those carries were easy. He is just that good. Coach Sanford has the kind of big back he had while in Utah in former Ute RB's Marty Johnson and Quinton Ganther. In fact, I think Summers could be better.
**I really like the CB combo of Goeffrey Howard and Quinton Pointer who both had multiple pass break-ups last night. Howard (who is pretty darn athletic in his own right) plays like a wily veteran who just knows the game of football and doesn't get out of position. Pointer is just a freak athletically but is still recovering from a hip pointer and last year's knee surgery. I will call it right now: Pointer will be a four-year starter at CB and will leave as one of the best CB's ever to play at UNLV. High praise but I really think he is worth it.
** This new defensive package is downright scary. It reminds me a lot of what you see from Pete Carroll at USC. UNLV's new defensive philosophy is pressure, attitude and more pressure. As a defensive coach myself, I love what I am seeing, especially with young DB's. This pressure (and the crazy talent in UNLV's front seven) will help protect those guy's in coverage if Barber/Shealy employ this type of defense on game day. The linebacking core of Bell, Beauchamp and Starr is so fast it is almost scary.
** The offensive line seems to be doing fairly well in run-blocking but is still struggling in pass-protection. I ‘m inclined to believe, though, it may have something to do with all of the pressure provided by Rebel defenders. This Rebel defense is fast and aggressive and will, hopefully, provide that same challenge to anyone trying to block it. This Rebel defense reminds me of some of the TCU Horned Frog defenses of the recent past. We all know how tough it is to block TCU. Regardless, this O-line works hard, is very tough mentally and seems to be getting better. This type of challenge in spring can only make them better.
** Very impressed with how well defensive tackle Malo Taumua played yesterday after Jacob Hales (stinger) got nicked up. This kid has one of the highest revving motors on the team. He simply doesn't stop and has a fun zest to his game. He needs to get stronger but he will be very nice player in certain situations even as a sophomore next season.
** Finally, I had my first major Jeremy Geathers sighting yesterday. He looked as if he was playing with some fire and, at times, seemed unblockable. Especially if the Rebel coaches were sending Beau Bell on a blitz from the same edge as Geathers was coming from. What a scary combo for an OT or RB to block coming off of the edge. Let's hope Jeremy and Beau stay healthy and play this way all year. Our defense could surely use them.
All-in-all there is still a lot of work to be done. But this team has a workman-like mentality and seems to relish the thought of getting better. I just hope that these Rebels are the team that turns the corner for UNLV football and gets it truly rolling. One thing is for sure, the Rebel staff and players are working very hard to that end.