Saturday turned out to be quite long and trying for yours truly, but at least it started the right way at the Silver and Blue Game.
- The weather was outstanding. We should know by now that it's not truly the end of winter until Nevada concludes its spring practices.
- The scoring system was a huge departure from other spring games, but I think it was for the better. I personally believe the ways in which to earn points made it a much more equitable way to look at the day's events than other formats can offer. Once you figured out what each kind of play was worth and got past the idea of a TD being worth 10 or 12 points instead of just 7, it was a good system. I hope it returns for next year's game.
- Like most of the crowd size estimates the AD puts out these days, I must call BS on how many people attended the game. 2,500 is more like the low end of what I would guess. But I'm also afraid that if I complain too vocally about it, then those infernal turnstiles will appear at next year's game and everything will go downhill from there. So let's move on.
- It took a few series for the passing game to start clicking, and even then it was sort of hit-or-miss. Each QB had their share of bad throws that were either over, behind or nowhere near their intended receivers. Lantrip had the only passing TD on the day, and didn't do anything to dispel the notion that he's the guy to beat heading into summer and fall. Magleby regressed from his previous scrimmage performances, while Fajardo definitely improved. Either way, look at Kaep's passing stats from last year's spring game and you'll see how little there is to actually glean from these games and what bearing it will have on how good the team will turn out to be (meaning "possibly no bearing whatsoever").
- One thing I'll grant each of the two younger QBs is that they're slippery -- even with swarms of defenders around them, they were often very difficult to catch. Fajardo in particular put together some long runs that looked (dare I say it this early) Kaepernick-esque. Assuming Lantrip stays in front and no one gets injured, the competition for all three QB spots will be fun to watch unfold.
- The running backs continue to impress me. True, we have every reason to believe that Ball and Mark will be fired up to hit the fall practice field when they fully heal up, but that doesn't mean the development of the young guys behind them will be any less meaningful. Keeping the hyperbole to a minimum, both Jefferson and Hale showed flashes of some of the skills that made Taua great, mainly their reading of which blocks to follow and the timing of the cuts they make. In Jefferson's case, I actually think he's a little farther along than Taua was when he was a sophomore. To put it succinctly, Hale just gets stuff done.
- The Union did mostly well. Their run blocking was very good in most cases, but the fact that six different players got past them for sacks was slightly discouraging. But herein lies the central problem of judging any spring game: who deserves the praise and who deserves the criticism?
- The QBs weren't particularly special on this day and neither were the receivers. I, personally, was glad to see Wimberly getting more touches, and I think it's awesome that 49 yards on three catches is considered a "quiet" day for Matthews. Most of the units' drops today could be chalked up to sub-par throws or being snuffed out by their defenders. One thing I was definitely intrigued by were the number of fly sweep hand-offs to receivers in motion. It would seem that the coaches are trying to look for other ways to put the ball in many different receivers' hands, and I like these efforts so far. If it were up to me to pick that third receiver spot right now, I'd have to go with either Session or Anderson.
- It was great to see the defense get out to the start that they did. Forcing two three-and-outs and stopping another drive later was a positive departure from their other two scrimmages.
- The six different sacking players I mentioned earlier is testament to the variety that we're beginning to see in Coach Buh's play-calling. At one point, Faddis got a nice tackle for a loss and I remarked to someone next to me that Coach Burton would never have called a safety blitz when he was here, much less a successful one.
- More often than not, the corners and safeties were in place to make good plays on passes. Granted, a couple of times this resulted in pass interference being called, but how much can you really chew out a player for a penalty in a spring game?
- I'm really interested to see who the second cornerback will be opposite Frey. Thompson and Garrett both had good outings today, and when you throw in James, Wooten and Brown things will only get that much more intense. Hold on to your butts, folks.
- Rosette and Hekking made some good plays at the end spots, with Rosette getting the edge today. This kid just can't seem to do wrong out there and the coaches look really smart for moving him up to the line.
- This observation doesn't really have to do with the spring game, so I'll put it here at the end of my report. I love seeing Roy's intensity and swagger out there. He represents the kind of attitude that this defense has needed for so long: the confidence in one's self and one's ability to kick your butt without crossing the line over into disrespectful territory. But he also flirts with that line once in a while, and seems to enjoy doing so. With that said -- and because I would never ever dream of saying this to his face -- the pulled up jersey look does not suit him. Maybe it's partly a psychological thing like Brian Wilson's beard and I'm not seeing it, but it just doesn't sit well with me. But whatever -- different strokes for different folks.
See you all on Tuesday for another edition of Summer Fillers.