Tuesday, August 23, 2011
A Day in the Shade
Before arriving at today's scrimmage, I was told to sit in the west side stands. Given how much shade the other fans and I were able to enjoy, we certainly didn't have to be told twice. We often wonder why the fans on the west side of the stadium don't make more noise during games -- maybe that nice shade just renders them all docile? Like giving a belly rub to a dog on its back, I tell ya.
Unfortunately I don't yet excel at multitasking during my coverage of scrimmages. I do my best to observe the other happenings on the field, but only if I'm not already furiously scribbling notes or looking up a player's name on my copy of the roster. For this entry, I'm going to try describing each drive individually as opposed to trying to draw an actual theme from the day's action.
~ Like most scrimmages, the kickers were the last players to warm up before the action began. Anthony Martinez missed a couple of short ones to his left and right. Colin Ditsworth, who is listed as a punter on the official roster, took some snaps as well.
1st Drive ~ Lantrip started off at QB. James-Michael Johnson stuffed Mike Ball for a loss on the first play. Ball gained it back on the next play. Corbin Louks dropped an easy pass over the middle, but this might have been due to Duke Williams screaming around the left on a blitz and almost getting a sack.
2nd Drive ~ Louks took a hand-off on a fly sweep to the right and was stopped for no gain. Lantrip then tried an option pitch to his left to Louks, which was also stopped for no gain. I really liked the efforts the offense went to in order to get the ball in Louks' hands, which you'll see the dividends for later. The drive ended when Lantrip threw deep into double coverage and Charles Garrett should've picked it off.
3rd Drive ~ Nick Hale ran for no gain. Shane Anderson caught a quick pass to the sideline for a short gain. Rishard Matthews stretched out for a BIG catch right before getting drilled by the defender, which prompted a penalty flag. Hale ran for a couple up the middle, but a small fight erupted after the play and the offense had to back up again. Matthews went to the corner of the end zone for a fade, but was covered tight and got a questionable PI call. Hale then took three straight hand-offs before eventually finding the end zone.
4th Drive ~ Cody Fajardo took over for the next two drives. After a short gain up the middle for Ball, Fajardo evaded a couple of tackles and rain down the left sideline for a big gain. He then threw a long completion to Aaron Bradley on the right sideline, who stepped out before he could bolt for the end zone. Garrett wrapped up Stefphon Jefferson in the backfield for a loss, who took his next carry for a short gain to his right. The drive stalled when Fajardo threw a play action pass through Kolby Arendse's hands, and Martinez made the short field goal afterwards.
5th Drive ~ The next drive should've ended right away when Fajardo threw a pass right into the hands of Jordan Dobrich, a freshman linebacker, who dropped it. After a no-gain from Jefferson, Fajardo executed a great zone read for another big gain. Jefferson fumbled his next carry, but it was picked up by Bradley for some extra yards. A penalty pushed the offense back a few yards, then Anderson caught another pass for a short gain. Bradley then took an option pitch inside the 10 (I liked seeing the receivers getting involved on these plays). The offense was stopped on three straight goal line carries before Lampford Mark eventually ran it in.
6th Drive ~ Lantrip came back in for this one-play beauty: a pass to Anderson who did a little shake and bake to evade two defenders and took it to the house for a touchdown.
7th Drive ~ Louks was tackled hard after a 5-yard gain. After a short gain from Mark, Isaiah Frey stepped in front of a pass for the first actual interception of the day.
8th Drive ~ Lantrip took a zone read for a short gain before getting rushed by two defenders and being forced to throw it away. Anderson hauled in a long catch over the middle right before getting drilled by a defender. After Ball was stopped for no gain, Anderson caught a pass and had it jarred loose by Williams, who took it back for what could be assumed would've been a touchdown.
9th Drive ~ Lantrip threw a couple of nice completions to a new receiver, sophomore Joseph Huber from Las Vegas. After two short gains from Ball, he took his third carry virtually untouched for a touchdown run.
10th Drive ~ Devin Combs came in for the first time, and he's every bit as big as Coach Ault described at his last presser. Kendall Brock then got a couple of carries, with which he lost yards and subsequently made them up. After an incomplete pass to L.J. Washington on the sideline, Brock broke a tackle and took it to his right for a big gain. Anthony Knight then came in for a couple of short gains, the second of which could've been a loss had Knight not nimbly regained his footing after being tripped up. Bubba Boudreaux came up to upend Combs short of the first down and end this drive.
11th Drive ~ Tanner Roderick saw his first action on this drive, but not before Knight got three straight carries, the second of which went for a first down. The offense was whistled for a false start, then Roderick completed a pass to tight end Erik Stewart. Aaron Brown should've picked off the next pass and the drive ended.
12th Drive ~ Lantrip came back in, and Frey nearly came up with his second pick (the secondary's recurring theme today was "close, but no cigar"). Louks caught a pass for about fifteen yards before Lantrip threw ahead of him on the next play for an incomplete. Matthews hauled in a long reception on the right sideline which was book-ended by short gains from Hale. After Ball was tackled for a loss, Lantrip threw a quick touchdown pass to Zach Sudfeld...which was called back by a penalty. Bradley couldn't bring in a pass that was too high on the next play, and Martinez made a short field goal.
13th Drive ~ Fajardo handed it off to Mark next, who carried it a long way for a first down. After another incomplete pass to Arendse, Bradley caught a pass, then spun off a defender for another big gain. Fajardo kept a zone read for no gain, then Ball picked up a couple of yards, then Fajardo took off up the middle after a few seconds of looking for his receivers and was tackled at the six. Jefferson took it inside the one, then Fajardo kept it himself for the score.
14th Drive ~ For his last drive, Fajardo lofted a long pass down the right to Matthews, who was briefly de-pantsed (his defender came back down from leaping for the pass and tried to tackle him as he hit the turf, but his hand found the top of Matthews' pants instead). Matthews caught it in spite of all of this and ran for the score, and I must now wash my eyes after seeing much more of him than I ever wanted to. The consolation in all of this is that his hands never left their grasp of the football. What a trooper.
15th Drive ~ Combs led the day's last drive, which started with a trip-up/sack in the backfield. Washington caught a pass over the middle before Knight ran for the first down. Thaddeus Brown tackled Combs hard after another good gain on the ground. Knight busted out another solid first down run before Roderick came in and threw an incomplete to Dominic Coulter in tight coverage. Roderick ran for a first down on a zone read before throwing to Knight over the middle for a short gain. Roderick evaded three tackles en route to another first before Knight ran it in for the last touchdown of the day.