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 saw, it doesnt count until August. You can base almost nothing off how your team faces your own team in a scrimmage situation. Did your OL look awful because the DL is so good or that they are really that bad? Is the WR corps going to get open at all in 2014 or not? You can ask this about every position group after a scrimmage. We will not know until after Georgia.
The best thing to do is look for specific players and try to notice their fundamental improvement rather than any plays they make. 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 think this year it'll be D.J. Howard. 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.
First, I think this was the most vanilla spring game we've had in a long time. I got bored in the stands and started picking out individuals. Chad showed us nothing at all, and Venables didn't really dial up anything that I thought was exotic or some new wrinkle. The defense was in base coverage, and the offense basically stuck with only a few formations and plays. This is not because they don't want to show anything to Georgia - Richt has 2 years of BV + CM tape to review, and he's not dumb enough to spend more than 10 minutes watching our spring game footage. This was either because the staff didn't really feel like the offense could execute more than that, or they spent the whole spring on fundamentals, likely both.
Second, neither QB impressed me, but neither gave me any reason to be down on them until I heard what happened with Chad Kelly after the game. Cole Stoudt will start against UGA. He's earned it. If he screws up badly, then play someone else, but I start Cole and I wouldn't think twice about him being able to execute the whole system. While Cole didn't dominate, he did have a few very nice throws. Don't ask me about the sidearm flip he made to Artavis Scott, you don't want to hear my head explode. I think the passing is more a result of the WR play than anything else. I don't think either Stoudt nor Kelly have the true arm strength for truly high-level QB play. I think if Kelly plays this year he'll take one look downfield and run it himself 99% of the time.
And after hearing what happened via twitter and such after the game, I agree with Dabo 100% for benching his ass. If he wants to disrespect the staff it'll become a cancer on the team. Nip it in the bud. If he doesn't fix whats wrong between his ears he can go play at Furman. We warned that he was immature when we signed him, and I don't think he's matured one damn bit since. If you can't control your emotions you can't be a leader on the field.
I mentioned the WR corps above as being a possible culprit for some of the passing stats not being there. Well the WR corps really didn't have all hands on deck in this game. Peake is out, Hopper is out, and we played a bunch of walk-ons and true freshmen who really don't know the plays. WR route running was poor, and I saw too many guys not running hard at all. Blocking effort seemed fine, but I just can't see why you'd stop running your routes because the CB touches you.
I was very happy with the defense as a group. I think we'll have an outstanding defense in 2014, and I think we're going to need them to be better to even touch 10 wins. I think the DL will be top 5 nationally, and if we can fix Safety, then I don't see many teams handling our defense. Tackling was mostly good, coverage was good aside from one big bust by a safety on Mike WIlliams' TD. Oh and Mac Alexander is really good, like really really good.
But the DL dominance brings us to the offensive line. I don't expect them to really improve in 3 months time, mind you, but I would like to see our best pass-blocking RT be able to at least stay in Vic Beasley's way. Shaq Anthony had a bad day all around and Dabo chewed him out for it. I think we're going to be inconsistent and struggle up front again, but I think we should keep an open mind about their potential up front in 2014, considering who they had to block today.
RB is still an open question to me. I think Gallman will get the call for the tough yards. Brooks still needs mass to play every down, and Dye was out. Davidson will get spot carries and OZ/sweep plays. I just hope the staff really pushes the running game this offseason and through camp so we will have one clear-cut guy who can get in a groove before going up against UGA in Athens.