I was on the sideline for the second Spring Scrimmage to take photos, but got to actually watch the scrimmage when Tech decided to cut off photography during the actual scrimmage. Here is what I saw:
Offensive Line: We struggled here all day, and struggled here in the last scrimmage. Snaps with Gallington are getting better, but still not indicative of a starting center in the Big 12. Second team snaps were worse with Morales, and he heard about it from Coach brown. Doege was under pressure most of practice, and his timing was thus off most of practice. Some of this is due to improved D-Line play and intensity, but some was just O-Line getting beat. My favorite quote in this regard was Coach Brown to one of the Morales brothers: "you can't protect the QB because you are tired.....you hear that everyone, he can't block because his is tired....your tired because your overweight."
Needless to say, the O-Line struggles aren't going un-noticed. From what I can tell, O-Line play is the biggest reason for our offensive struggles this Spring. That said, replacing three starters, and having 2 or 3 weeks with your new O-Line coach probably has a a lot to do with it. My expectation is that a complete spring, off season, and Fall ball will solve most of this. My optimism comes from the fact that despite the inexperience, and new coach.....the line is noticeably more athletic and moves better than last years line.
QBs: Doege struggled with timing due to pass rush, as well as faster receivers. Its early, and Doege has a crop of wideouts that are much faster than he is use to...they are in different spots on routes, and it shows. Also, every day the WR lineup has been different due to little nagging injuries. So bad O-line play, and unfamiliar targets are leading to a lack luster start to spring.
Brewer is coming along, and certainly is not allowing Doege to be comfortable. That said, Brewer is still not able to run the "up tempo" version of our offense. The faster the plays comes in, the longer Brewer takes to make his reads and snap the ball. The result is delay of game penalties or just frustration on behalf the coaches. Heard coach Brown say to Doege, "see how long it takes Brewer to get the play off"? Brewer is the future, but is still not ready.
WRs: Nothing but good news here. Tyson Williams is a beast both blocking and catching, very physical, lots of mouth. Moore is looking more like himself, no pun. Bell has a nagging injury but is super fast made some nice catches, and has awesome dreds. Amaro is unstoppable over the Middle, a complete mismatch for any line backer or d-back, great hands, no fear over the middle. He will be in the NFL after another season. Javares and Grant are both smurf types, but all-world fast. These two still make rookie mistakes getting lined-up, but basically uncoverable in the slot. Derek Edwards plays with attitude, blocks well, and is making some great catches. Marquez has not missed a beat from last year, very athletic and fast on the outside, needs to work on blocking for sideline screens. He let Williams get blown up by Neboh yesterday because of an "O'le" block. That and Neboh made a nice play which was encouraging.
RBs: I think Kenny must feel the heat from Daniels. Both talk after practice like its a friendly competition, but both are simply running downhill.....and running ANGRY. Its like they are looking for DBs to run over. Kenny's fumble came only after he was dragging half the defense, looking for extra yards. Just mean spirited, smash mouth running that I hope looks as good against the competition. There is really no drop off with Sadale who was noticeably frustrated when he was taken out at the goaline yesterday. He wants his snaps to prove he belongs. Also, the full-back Ontiveros had an awesome catch out of the back field that he took for about 25 yards. It was a nice check down by Doege, and physical run after the catch by the full back.
Offense: From what I see we have improved in every aspect of our offensive game save the O-Line. We all new that would be a struggle, replacing 3 starters, and the new coach doesn't help. We will watch how this progresses, we are only 6 practices in. Outside of that, we are better, stronger, faster at almost all skill positions, and there is nothing to indicate that we are becoming an average offense.
Linebackers: Everyone knows about number 50, Smith. The fact is he and Cobb, and Sam look like a real Big 12 corps, and may take what was one of biggest weaknesses last year and turn them into a team strength. Look great against the pass, getting better against the run. As good as our RBs looked at running the ball with physicality....the LBs didn't let them break but one large run.
DBs: Neboh and Corn are in the hip pocket of Moore and Williams. Every play is a battle back and forth that results in a physical/contested catch or an int/break up. Then the jawing starts, and sometimes a pushing match. These two corners are playing mean and really look good in man coverage. A noticeable improvement. I haven't noticed much from the safeties except for a good open field tackle on Ronnie by Johnson yesterday. The fact is this is most experienced part of the D, and when Porter is fully healthy, this will be the last of our worries.
DLine: We are getting a lot of pressure on the QBs. Some is better line play, but some is weakness on the O-Line. I like the way the interior of the line looks, but I am wondering why Mackey is not getting to the QB more. He knows he has one season to get to the next level, so I expect more. The other pass rushers look better everyday and get to the QB often.
Defense: I am making a concerted effort not to get my hopes up, but it is hard. You can tell by Tub's comments that he is surprised by their progress and so am I . They simply look like a new squad. I could point to a myriad of things, but the most impressive to me can be summed up in two words.....gang tackling. For the first time in years we are swarming to the ball, and team tackling. If we win 7 or 8 games, this defense will be the reason why, and almost all of them will be back next season.