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Things to Watch in the Orange & White Game

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I want to caution folks first. Intrasquad scrimmages like this really don't serve as great indicators of anything, so forming strong opinions after you attend/watch the game Saturday would be unwise. Generally, I only take the feel of the game and look for fundamentals in looking at specific players or positions, but here are just a few things I'm going to be paying attention to this weekend.

  • QB position. Is Tajh reading what the defense shows him? His completion percentage or yardage means little to me here, but I don't want to see him forcing balls into coverage just to make a play happen. He has to show me he can read coverages and take what they give him. Is he protecting the football? If its a problem now, it will be a problem this August.
  • Left Tackle. How is Price at getting low enough to maintain position on the Ends? Does he hinge too quickly? Is he able to slide out when they go wide of him? How does he adjust to blitzes? What about Brandon Thomas? We've heard he has been a no-show thus far, will he turn it on when everyone is watching?
  • OL in general. How is the run blocking? Is Caldwell turning Brad's softies into football players? They could already pass block, but will they look eager to hit somebody or not? Is McClain going to get in shape to play this offense?
  • WR. We know Nuke is good, and that he works hard enough. I probably won't even look at him. Who I'm concerned about is Jaron Brown, Bryce McNeal and Joe Craig. I've already given up on Marquan Jones. Jaron needs to show me consistent effort in getting open and making blocks. Craig needs to show he can run routes and get open. Bryce needs to show he can be physical at the point of attack and force openings in coverage. EVERYBODY needs to catch the damn ball. As good as our defenders may be, there is no excuse for a drop.
  • RB. Who wants it? Who wants to run hard and fight for yards? Is Demont Buice fast enough to play? I'm looking for effort here most of all.
  • TE. We know how talented Dwayne Allen is, but his effort late last season was questionable. Does he try to make a block when he's tasked, or does he only want to catch the ball?

For the offense in general, I'm really only looking at whether they can execute and get the snap off within a few seconds of the previous play ending. The pace won't be crisp as it will in August because they haven't repped it enough, but will it look like they know enough about what they're doing to get set and get it off?

On defense, we're breaking in a mostly new secondary, but I'm confident in Harbison and Steele and that they'll get their issues fixed reasonably well. We may not dominate this year because of the youth inside, but we have to find some future stars. What I'll look for is technique work from everyone.

  • DE. Brown is out. Branch has had a death in the family. Both need the technical work with Coach Hobby. Is Goodman going to balloon up or get in shape to play hard for 4 quarters? Has he turned his motor on full speed? Is Gore quick enough off the edge or should he be at OT?
  • 3-technique. Rennie and Tavaris will be fine as pass rushers, but are they being pushed around because of their lack of weight on rushes? How is Barnes' first step and quickness?
  • Nose. Who will set up behind Brandon Thompson? Shatley's not a bad technician but has little talent. Tra Thomas has had attitude issues, so does he want to play?
  • LB. We know about Christian, don't look at him. Look at Tig Willard and Vic Beasley. Look at Parker, is he stiff in his hips? Their range? Coverage ability? Those are my questions here.
  • Corner. We need a cover man. Brewer improved as the season went on last year, but he's going to need to cut down on his busts even more as the lead corner. Breeland has wowed folks with his man/man ability but is he strong at the point of attack? We play Press man here, and he has to be able to jam the shit out of guys at the line.

After the game we'll address these issues again in a short review and cut some clips for explanation of Morris' system during the rest of downtime.