Gary Andersen and his squad held an energetic scrimmage today, a mere one week away from the spring game. Here are some of my observations from the festivities.
- The first string offensive line is solid. The offensive line today consisted of LT Sean Harlow, LG Fred Lauina, C Josh Mitchell, RG Gavin Andrews, and RT Drew Stanton and they were extremely consistent. They did pretty well in pass blocking as Nick Mitchell and Seth Collins had plenty of time in the pocket. They were also okay in the run game, they were best in the early going opening up cracks for Storm Woods and Chris Brown and as the practice continued on the defense stepped up to plug more holes especially as the passing game looked poor.
- Neither Seth Collins or Nick Mitchell were able to ignite the passing attack though, as the receivers struggled to get open, and when they were both quarterbacks had difficulty getting them the ball. Neither is especially accurate; whoever wins the competition will be quite raw. For my money Seth Collins looked superior today, solid presence in the pocket and looked slightly better throwing the ball with equal athleticism to Mitchell.
- The receivers struggled to get much done today, they were not creating much separation. Most of the receptions came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. There were a couple attempted shots downfield and the wideouts were in poor enough position that they had to play defense on most of them. The only receivers I came away satisfied with were Hunter Jarmon, who had a couple decent catches and a nifty open field move, and Richard Mullaney who did alright with yards after catch as well.
- Defensively the Beavs looked decent. They had trouble getting through the first string o-line, but the second offensive units were constantly overwhelmed. Pressure came from a variety of places; there were outside linebackers coming, sometimes on an overload blitz, and some cornerback blitzes as well which were also successful.
- The defense will also be much more prepared for the quarterback read-option this year. They faced it several times today and the outside defender with contain responsibilities consistently came up with the correct read. This generally led to negative plays for the offense, which they struggled to recover from.
- The running backs were moving piles when they had a chance to get out of the backfield, they were hitting the pile and still moving it forward a couple of yards. Their productivity suffered as it went along and it appeared that the defense was keying in to stop the run and short passes. Brown and Woods looked good though when they had a chance to run.
It is okay to be cautiously optimistic about this team; Andersen seems to have them moving in the right direction. The defense was live all day, hooting and hollering on just about any play they did. They were organized and took care of business quickly. It feels much different from the Riley regime with the full contact (and do note that there were no injuries despite the tackling).
The Beavers only have one more week of practices before the spring game and they will again get to show off what they have been working on.