I finally sat down yesterday and watched the CSS replay of this year’s G-Day game. As expected, it was entertaining in spots but underwhelming in terms of any substantial developments (what do you expect after all of eleven or so practices?).
But I’ve got a motto to live up to here, after all. So write, I must. Just remember that it’s nothing more than a glorified spring scrimmage we’re talking about here. The ground rules for the game prevent us from getting a really accurate idea of where things stand. There will be a few kids that didn’t appear in the game that will be contributors in the fall. And we know there will be more changes in the two deep during the 29 practices this fall. Take these observations with a sizable grain of salt, therefore.
- At quarterback, both Stafford and Cox look noticeably more comfortable running the offense. (Duh.) Stafford is certainly the most gifted at the position; however, I was a little surprised to see that he still needs work on his mechanics, which were inconsistent.
- The running backs looked good. Moreno runs well up the middle and showed some elusiveness (Richt had a comment that he can “run skinny”, which is as good a description as any). Both Lumpkin and Sutherland look like they’ve lost a little weight. Neither will be confused with Olympic sprinters, but both appeared quicker from last year. Sutherland looks more fluid catching passes and running with them, too.(photo credit: Brett Davis)
- The wide receivers did a good job avoiding drops and blocking downfield. How does that translate over into real games? Beats me. Eason and these kids have a lot to prove. The big challenge this fall is going to be getting Mikey Henderson in open space.
- Tripp Chandler was the most impressive kid I saw on offense. He’s improved leaps and bounds. I expect him to be a contributor this season.
- The first team offensive line was surprisingly serviceable. I was especially impressed with the goal line blocking. Blitz protection, though, seemed shaky at times. There isn’t much depth at the position right now, from what I saw of the second team line. Searles has gotten off to a good start, but he’s got miles to go here.
- Line play was so-so. It didn’t seem like a good pass rush could be generated without blitzing. Howard still looks too small to be able to take the pounding from a typical SEC running attack. Battle looked decent, though.
- Linebacking… going into the spring, I thought the biggest concern facing the team was the offensive line, but now I’m not so sure. Yes, there appears to be more speed than there was a year ago, but I’m still seeing players out of position more frequently than should be happening. BVG was a great defensive coordinator, but he was a great linebackers coach, too. This area has slipped noticeably since he left and I didn’t see anything from G-Day to indicate that the ship is being righted. Color me concerned.
- Yeah, the secondary played less than stellar ball at times – surrendering far too many big plays, in particular. Unlike the linebacking situation, it doesn’t give me much cause for worry. Martinez is a good coach back there and the talent level is apparent (hello, Reshad Jones!).
- Bobo continues to impress with his playcalling and the sets he’s using. I’ll be curious to see if the offensive line develops enough to let him feel comfortable during the regular season running the three and four receiver sets he was throwing out there pretty frequently. Goal line playcalling was outstanding. He’s really making an effort to get away from the utterly predictable “wham” formation in short yardage situations (with some help from Searels, evidently).
- I think I’ve written enough to show that Searles looks to be a very good hire to this point. If he cobbles together a functional offensive line with the raw materials he’s been given, that will be one hell of an accomplishment.
- Coach Johnson probably doesn’t get the credit he should, but someone sure has done a good job bringing Chandler along. I look forward to seeing what Ward can do when he’s healthy.
- Martinez has a lot of talent related issues to sort out between now and the OSU game. He needs to avoid the stretches that have plagued his defenses in each of the last two years where bad fundamentals and lack of intensity have combined to yield a lot of points.
- Buck Belue talks way too much. If brevity is indeed the soul of wit, he’s soulless in that department. My dad made the observation that Buck suffers from diarrhea of the mouth. Find a cure. Soon. Please.
- Hines Ward just makes me smile every time I hear him talk. I also got a kick out of watching him and Bobo on the sideline.