Posted: 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Every year we try to really caution people who watch the spring game to take very little in the way of conclusive statements about players from it. I'm not taking anything conclusive from what I said below, it doesnt count until August. You can base almost nothing off how your team faces your own team in a scrimmage situation. The best thing to do is look for specific players and try to notice their fundamental improvement rather than any plays they make. If you sit in the stands and want to strangle someone like I usually do, this becomes more apparent. For far too long we’ve seen guys make spectacular grabs or long runs in a spring game only to have them completely disappear in September. I can only give my impressions of the game after watching it live at the game and rewatching the tape again tonight. Dissecting the game film is not something we do for spring.
The primary negative I noticed from the 3 quarters or so of real play was the back 7 in coverage, moreso the back 4. We know the already-thin secondary was split into two squads, but I wasn't happy with the Safety play when starters were out there. Underneath coverage in the hash area wasn't stellar either. The angles were horrible on several plays, mostly from walk-ons that won't play, but also from 2-deep guys. Robinson looked so-so, as did Smith and Peters. Our secondary play is going to cause us problems this year and all spots should be open for competition when the freshmen arrive.
The WRs looked pretty solid to me, theres definite talent there even at the bottom of the depth chart. Of the group, my only critique is that some guys stopped running their routes before the play ended. Martavis Bryant made some great catches and fought for some balls that he had not done before. He even did alright when the ball went away from him, and was OK with blocking. I cannot say the same of Charone Peake, who looked very lazy when the ball wasn't going in his direction. I saw lazy route running and generally lackadaisical play. Adam Humphries was dependable and gave solid effort all the time. Germone Hopper looked like a freshman: possibly spectacular but also lost at times.
QB Cole Stoudt started slowly, and underthrew a couple balls, but got much better once he was in rhythm as the game progressed. He's a capable #2 QB and he can handle the offense in a pinch if Morris runs Boyd a few times too many in a game.
Chad Kelly is more talented than Cole, but he looked like a freshman who spent a lot of time having to run the ball himself in HS. He still has happy feet as a passer. He was trying to do too much and show off for the #2 QB spot when the injury happened, and should've just let them touch him in this contest. I see no reason to blame Travis Blanks at all for the hit, he was trying to avoid it.
Sam Cooper's injury didn't look like it should've been as bad as it is, but his loss now puts us in a serious bind at the blocking TE position. He's a line TE and we'd need him in there to block as well as be a decent threat as a receiver. Jordan Leggett is not a line guy at this point in his career, and neither is Seckinger. McCullough doesn't seem like a line guy after rewatching the game either; both he and Smith are H-back tweener types. One of them is going to have to step up. I'm a little concerned about who is going to block there in non-flexed power sets. We have not seen a penchant for adding an extra OT blocker from Morris in the past in anything but goal-line situations.
Trench play is difficult to read when youre going against your own guys and the 1st string is split, but I was hoping for more in terms of run blocking. I dont think the holes were ever open to properly evaluate the linebackers, other than Quandon Christian looking like a PeeWee player against Nick Schuessler on the zone read. RB by committee was the theme going into spring, and its status quo from what i saw. Howard still needs to lower his pad level and Brooks needs weight.
Clemson's DL will be fine, and the DTs were impressive, but I was shocked that Eric MacLain did so well against Vic Beasley. Recall that VB made Battle look bad last year in this game and beat Thomas off the edge as well. I was also hoping for more from Corey Crawford, and did not see it. If anything, I felt like Tavaris Barnes showed more as a pass rusher. I'm worried about our pass rush off that edge position in 2013.
I was disappointed by the number of missed kicks, but Catman will be fine and Pinion should be starting Punter and kickoff man and will do well at both this season.