Unfortunately I was only able to be there for the first hour of the scrimmage, but I can definitely comment on what I saw. I watched with reader "fluffybuff," which was fun. Remember, this isn't a comprehensive summary of the scrimmage, just what I noticed before leaving early. Gosh, aren't jobs a pain?
When I got there, there were two guys on the field with new numbers. It took me a while to figure out who they were, but they were Matt Bahr, who switched from 71 to 43, and Scott Fernandez, who switched from 61 to 99. They played the roles of blocking backs in short yardage situations. A few days ago they had Bahr on the field as an extra blocker in practice, so I guess they're committing to using him down by the goalline. Good news, because we definitely left a few short-yardage opportunities out there last year. It also doesn't hurt that the guy you're bringing on has started games along the O-line, so he's got some good experience under his belt.
We sat along the 20 yardline on the Northwest corner of the stadium, where the LBs did their pregame routine. Cabral and Jon Majors led them, and then had Mike Sipili (who sat out, we'll find out why soon enough) explain why they went through the drills they did and how the routine will help them throughout the season. It was a pretty cool learning experience to witness. Then BJ Beatty led them in a quick, Samoan/Hawaiian get-pumped-up dance/chant. It was pretty intense. The DBs also did a cool preparation thing, huddling up and then yelling around at each other. This team definitely has a lot of passion.
Aric Goodman. Hopefully he's got his nerves together this year, because he's got a really strong leg. Before the scrimmage, he was making just about every practice kick, and a couple from what looked like 60+ yards. I hate to get my hopes up, though, because that's exactly what happened last offseason.
Rodney Stewart, who had been limited in the previous couple of practices because of a minor car accident was full-go today, while Travon Patterson wore the gold, non-contact jersey along with Hansen and Hawkins. Hirschman didn't get one, so he was fair game for the defense, and he definitely took a few shots. He also showed good pocket presence, though, and they had some fun with him. He ran at least one option play, and a took a couple of snaps out of the "Pistol" formation (Think Nevada). He's not the fastest guy, so the option may have just been the offense playing around a little bit, but the Pistol could conceivably be an addition to the playbook. For those of you not familiar with it, the QB lines up about a step farther back from the center than in the shotgun, and the RB is another yard or two behind him. It's primarily a running formation, that gives the offense the flexibility to go either direction without giving anything away to the defense.
The starting O-line did a pretty good job of protecting Hansen and giving him enough time to go through his progression. But our Defense did a pretty good job of covering guys downfield, so they were able to negate some of the O-lines effectiveness in the passing game. Hansen still managed to find guys over the middle, like TEs and McKnight. If given the time, he can be a pretty solid QB. They also ran one designed QB run, which Hansen took in for a TD from about the 15 yardline. It's nice to see Hansen running because that's the play that's been called, and not because everything broke down.
Lockridge did a pretty good job of following his blocks, but I'm still not convinced that he's really a RB. For a guy that's as fast as he is, he just doesn't consistently change directions quickly enough. He did have a pretty nice run for a TD though. Hildreth looks solid. I saw Cordary Allen throw a solid block in pass-protection, taking out the legs of a blitzing LB. That'll be one of the areas that those Freshmen RBs will be evaluated on that'll decide who gets playing time. After seeing Nabors out there, I think one of the freshmen will definitely be seeing the field. We've got Stewart, and he's a great first option if he can stay healthy this year, but after that it's fuzzy. I'll make a slight adjustment to my Positional Outlook for the RBs and I'll put it up next because that's one of the things the scrimmage made me think about.
Will Jefferson and Toney Clemons each dropped passes that would have been nice, long TDs. The drops aren't great, but the fact that these guys could get open downfield and that the QB is getting them the ball is a great sign. We're definitely going to stretch the field this year. Even McKnight had a pretty nice play downfield. He's just great. He had one catch that most guys wouldn't have been able to make. The coverage was perfect, but the pass & catch were more perfect. Right over the shoulder so that McKnight was the only guy who could get his hands on it, and he made a great, fingertip grab. I believe Hansen was the QB on that particular play.
I didn't see a single penalty in the time that I was there. They had referees on hand ready to call them, but I didn't see a single flag. I'm sure there were some later, but it'll be interesting to see who drew them.
For as raw as he is, Dakota Poole has a knack for pass-rushing. Like I said in my PO for the DTs. He's going to be a guy to watch in a season or two. Shoot, he's a guy to watch now!
Paul Richardson had one really nice play. He made a tough catch on a quick out, broke a tackle and then got downfield for an additional 10 or 15 yards before he was tackled. He's pretty strong for a guy who's only listed at 175.
Terrell Smith had a huge hit on Jason Espinoza, who caught a pass over the middle. Espinoza held onto the ball, though. Smith is a guy who looks like he could play right away, even though he's only a true freshman. We don't need him to, but he's definitely making a case for himself.
Keenan Stevens had a very heads-up play early on. Hansen drew the defense offsides, and he quickly snapped the ball to draw the penalty. It's nice that he's developed that awareness. Last year there were a few times that the QB drew the defense way offsides, but the Stevens held onto the ball, wasting each opportunity. It looks like that's on his mind this year, so we should be able to draw a few of those.
From what I could see, the defense mostly played a 3-3-5. It will be really interesting to see what they do when Forrest West comes back from his injury. It seems like he's the only DE on the weakside. I talk about this a bit in my Outlook on the DEs (am I shamelessly plugging myself or what?).
Keenan Canty is a pretty good blocker for a guy that's only 155 lbs. Once he bulks up a little bit, he's going to be a hard guy to keep off the field. He does everything.
I hope all that was helpful for those of you that couldn't make it. I wish I could've stayed for more.