Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Observations from the Spring Game

Since sEcSPN decided not to televise it, we are out of luck for a second glance at a film review of any kind, but I went to the game, as I usually do. This year seemed even more vanilla from a schematic viewpoint than in the previous 2-3 seasons, so there really is not a ton of things you could take away from the game. We also stuck with intermediate and shorter passes, so none of the QBs took a really deep shot downfield. However, I took away some major concerns and am looking for a few things to get fixed.

First I want to point out that I recognize that the teams are split unevenly, and that many backups play who may not all play during the season. I will point out to you though that backups on defense most definitely do play, and they play a lot, especially up front. While a starter might get 600-700+ snaps, the backups will generally get into the 200-300 range barring injury.

Our starting QB was out, but I don't see that as a major negative, these backups do need the reps.

QB - I thought Schuessler did admirably with the offense they gave him to run. It was more like what Stoudt was given in the bowl game: simple, short and intermediate routes that are meant to get the ball out quickly. He must have been really really bad last year in practice to not get game reps.

Now, do I think he's going to be a success against a Louisville? That is an different question. He really didn't have to read our defense at all. They were playing the same basic few coverages packages.

The next two will have a battle for the 3rd team spot this fall. If neither ever gets to play, they both get redshirted. I think they'll plan to redshirt one, and play the other only if an emergency occurs. Right now, they each have their strengths. Israel looks completely out of his element in our running plays. He does not seem to have the instinctive feel for the read options. His passes were fine, and he's a little ahead in that department. You would expect that given his HS offense.

Bryant looks like the more athletically talented player, but early on he was just going through the motions when he was asked to throw. He seemed to firm that up later on in the game. In the option, you can see why they took him, he's got enough speed and talent to do a lot with the ball in his hands and he has the feel for the read option.

I get the feeling that Bryant is just a little ahead in the battle for 3rd QB after the game. He'd be more useful in a game allowing us to use our option and be able to throw it. Israel right now is more one-dimensional and you'd throw out the option when he's in there. But, its early, and the real hitting doesn't start til August.

Run fits - I was saddened at how poorly we maintained gap integrity up front. We overran our lanes, the DL didn't plug up holes great, and the LBs did a poor job of filling -- particularly from the B-gap outwards (which brings in secondary support). Our offense did too well a job of running the ball.

Individual battles show one player vs. another, and perhaps that is what you should take from the game, but the overall integrity is very important and showed me that some backups are not quite ready for primetime games. I would say our first 11 will be OK, but after about 14 I think we will have problems in depth show up on the scoreboard. The good ones are still good: Lawson, Mac, Pagano will be great, Yeargin and Register can be good players, etc. Watkins showed some flashes, but needs to be more consistent. Reader needs to raise his game back up.

In the first half I did not see Skeletor losing his mind as much as I thought he would, but you could see him chewing out a few guys in the 2nd.

RB - the flip side is that I thought our RBs all did well, they all ran hard, though I saw a few run with their pads too high. I would not call their yardage so much a function of how the OL played, with a few exceptions, as I would their hard running and the defensive integrity.

WR - our WRs are some of the best out there, no worries here.

DB - We had some failures with the safety spots in run fits in the alley and some coverage busts. The first TD was basically all on Jefferie Gibson, who let Mike Williams get behind him when he came up, and then 2 plays later fell down when Williams cut inside on the post for 6. Similar issues showed themselves all day. Right now, I think only one side of the defense is vulnerable, and that's whichever side Mac is not playing. His side is complete lockdown. FSU would be wise not to test him.

But my major concern from the game? Kicking. I was not happy with the punting or kickoffs. Lakip is fine as a kicker, I think. But we couldn't get the kickoff inside the 10 most of the time. We didn't get enough hang on punts. I'm quite scared that we will drop a game based on this kicking situation this season.

It would be nice if we had a coach specialized in Special Teams....oh wait.