Before you go overreacting to how the offense performed today in all the reports, remember I cautioned that the defense SHOULD be ahead of the offense at this stage. The timing and execution of plays takes practice and repetition, whereas defense is a little easier to play after a layoff. If it was the other way around you should be worried. I would wait until the 2nd real scrimmage or Spring game before being worried about the offense's performance.
- Coach Steele says the defense has a long way to go however. LBs with the first group were Willard, Hawkins, and Andrews. Shuey was 2-Mike, Christian was 2-Sam. Gilchrist and Maxwell were the two Corners. Brandon Maye worked significantly at Weakside LB as well during the scrimmage. Recall Maye is still recovering from his injury and just was cleared to play this week. He will end up starting, and I would be appalled if Andrews did end up at #1 Sam: he's around the ball but still doesnt make the plays.
- The fact that no holes were opened for the running game should only be mildly worrisome right now. Smith was very slow on the Power-O play in pulling into the hole, which irks me a little. That was my main complaint about Thomas Austin. There is a definite separation between the 1st and 2nd team OL right now. Napier's comments are below.
- By all accounts, Bryce McNeal and Dwayne Allen looked great.
- Rennie Moore has been moved inside and outside to End, with Goodman out of town for a funeral and Bowers with a bruised knee, and is still whipping people. He might challenge Dwayne Allen for King of Spring this year. The move to DE is not going to stick, he's a DT, so don't think we're really changing things. This just means flexibility. This just means he should be able to fill in for Jenkins and Cumbie at the 3-tech. If anyone is making me feel better this Spring it is Moore, because we'll be in a tough spot after 2010 at DT.
- By all accounts, Tajh Boyd looked like a freshman today. 7/14 52 yds and 1 TD. He should look like one, he's playing a good defense. The defense did not allow a TD drive outside of the practiced red zone situations where they originally spot the ball at the 20.
- Gilchrist was returning punts today with DMac, and we are still having issues hitting the easier FGs and BOTCHING SNAPS.
Steele: "We're just scratching the surface in terms of things. Particularly that first group, they have a real good understanding of what we're doing and the application of it. They're real good about picking up on stances, alignments, splits, all that kind of stuff. They're smart football players and they communicate with each other. That starts with the guys in the back with Gilly and McDaniel and Hall… they do that very well.
"It doesn't matter. You can know what's coming and you still have to execute. I thought for the most part we wanted them to be nastier and to play tougher and hard-nose. We have to consistently do better there. Learn to dominate your opponent every snap. We made some progress there. We tackled well for the most part. As a whole there was pretty good tackling. We were very efficient in third down. Probably the thing that was a little frustrating to me was red zone. We put the ball down there. They didn't earn it. They put it down there at the 20 and I think we were three wins and one loss. That's 75-percent. That sounds good but that's not where we need to be. We need to learn how to dominate in the red zone. That's critical. That's points on the board.
We had some fourth down situations where we played well and on the goal line, they were 4-for-4. That is a mark of making some progress towards toughness. You get down here, it's mono-mono. It's not for the faint hearted. We were trying to play tougher, more physical. We've scratched the surface but we've got a long way to go."
How do you evaluate the LBs?
"Daniel and Quandon at SAM… they're young. They don't have a lot of reps. They executed pretty well. They did their job. On occasion, #34 (Christian) made some good plays, some really good plays. He can run and tries to be physical. He just has to learn the defense better. He was out there with the ones a couple of times. DeAndre is telling him what to do, Gilly is and Hawkins is and Jarvis is, too, so it's kind of hard to mess it up.
"At MIKE: Shuey and Hawk, Shuey has made a lot of progress considering he was reading cards in the fall on the scout team. At least Hawk was playing some. We've cut down on mental errors in terms of setting the defense and getting us lined up right. Brandon and Tig played well. I'm really encouraged with the progress of Tig. He's made a lot of progress. The light switch came on. It's totally different. He always had the ability. He's just grasped the concept of the defense. Brandon is playing WILL for the first time. It's hard when you play one and then you go to the other, but he does some things just natural, but the adjustment on it was good."
How about Rennie Moore's body of work this spring?
"Rennie has so much talent. A lot of talent. And he's got a motor. What he's finally starting to grasp is that it's technique. If you win with technique, then things come to you. You don't have to try to make it and hang somebody out. He's doing a nice job with that. Today, we played him at defensive end. The other day was the first day. And he busted a few things, but he busted them in the right way. He's got a motor."
How would you evaluate the defensive line today?
"I think that goes back to the situation of we're starting to learn to play with our hands, pad-leverage and low. But on top of that, if you don't have toughness and the mentality to dominate your opponent or you get lazy with it, then you'll have some things happen like we did last year. We played really well at times and at times we didn't play so well. Toughness will eliminate that. It's just play the next play at the same level all the time. I think through maturity and repetition, they're starting to do that. Again though… we've got a long, long way to go. And that's not a coach just saying that, that's a fact."
Napier on Boyd:
"He has a great approach to it, but I do think he's got to get to the point where he understands that there is a whole other level out there in terms of attention to detail. We can do a lot of the main things right on offense and be very average. We have got to do those things right, and we've got to continue to do the little things right at each and every opportunity.That's where he's at. He's figuring out: 'Hey, there's a lot more to this crap than I thought.'"
"He is in that phase now where he's learning what to do. You need repetition. It's the foundation of learning. So the good thing is, he's getting a lot of reps."
On the OL
"I think we have some drop-off with our second offensive line, I don't know that the defensive line has that much drop-off like we do, so there's a disadvantage there. We have a handful of guys in that second group we have to develop."
There will be more over the weekend to come.