Training Camp Notes: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

cross-posted from

DumpDorrell was at Training Camp and we have some things to report. We will start with the positives, otherwise in no particular order:

The Good

  • DeWayne Walker was impressive. This is the first time we saw him up close with the players for an extended time. It's only drills and obviously just Day 3, but we were impressed by how he had his players focused on him and the drills the entire time. Of course, 2-a-days have nothing to do with game-planning or play-calling. Beating the spread and shoring up the secondary are still big concerns for Walker, as is the lack of depth on that side of the ball. But we liked what we saw of him up close, which will contrast with other coaches that we will get to later.
  • Defense played with nice intensity, speed, athleticism and confidence, measurably more than the offense. They look good!
  • The offense is definitely opening up this year and that is great to see.  The offensive sets and drills were far more open than last year. Lots of shot gun, 3 and 4 receiver sets, open field passing, down field passing, play action, misdirection. If after 4 years of conservative, sphincter tightening run-run-pass-punt and hails of boos at the Rose Bowl Dorrell hadn't figured it out then he would be all but signing his walking papers. So no credit to Dorrell for figuring out what everyone else already knew. Credit does go to OC Training Jay, how much ... wait until the season starts.
  • Kai Forbath is going to be a great college kicker. He had some nice kicks, under pressure. Had some blocked too but we wonder if that was intentional. Problem is Kai still looks nervous out there. He will miss some important attempts, which will put pressure on the offense and our first-year OC Training Jay. Still, Kai may be the next Dorrell All-America kicker.
  • Ben Olson looked comfortable out there, and Cowen looked good too. They may not have looked like they are in their prime conditioning and game readiness, but we are going to be solid at the QB position this year.
The Bad
  • The much talked about excitement for Training Camp - as Dorrell said - the first time in his 5 years, was a little bit overblown. We did not see the fire and desire that Dorrell and the players talked about, except at times with the defense, yet sometimes even they seemed to be dialing it in. Still, let's be clear, the offense for the most part looked energetic and working hard, and the defense looked solid. We just did not see the kind of intensity we expected with all the happy talk and for a championship caliber team. Although we'd love to say otherwise, this team just did not look like a national championship team.
  • Punter Aaron Perez was spotty. He is a junior returning starter and we expected more. He was average at best last year if you recall but came up with the beauty punt against SuC that gave him promise for the future. Today he looked ... average, as did the punt returners. Average = bad, hence us putting this in the bad category.
  • Kai Forbath is going to need time. We mentioned this already, but it bears repeating in this section. He looks nervous and uncomfortable. He will miss FGs and possibly extra points. This will put pressure on Training Jay and Dorrell to find other ways to bail themselves out. Medlock was nearly 40% of all our scoring last year. Forbath will not pick up the slack, not nearly. Dorrell will have to open up the offense, especially if we have a lead in the 4th quarter (which goes against his conservative instinct), or we are screwed.
  • Receivers looked average. This is not new, but our receiving corps lacks a standout player. Too many dropped passes, and some sloppy routes ... just not inspiring. Not a good sign for the season.
  • The offense, as open as it was, looks like it will need some getting used to. Timing, structure, spacing, everything looked off often. WCO? Training Jay? Dorrell? There will be blame to go around. Sure, with time the offense will get the plays down, but Dorrell and Training Jay have to get the team playing smoothly on offense before the meat of the schedule hits. Lucky for Dorrell Stanford is up first. EXPECT some sloppy, ineffective play on offense in that game, it's bound to happen.
  • Dorrell running around barking meaningless comments and orders at times was a little odd. Players just don't seem to respond to him like they do Walker. We just don't see reverence and a burning need to please him. Dorrell was in charge don't get us wrong, and we can't place this in the ugly category. But it did look bad to us ... then again, maybe we're biased. There were a couple sighs and "wha?" looks on people's faces in the crowd with us, so we weren't the only ones.
The Ugly
  • This is obvious: The OL. We are not seeing good things from the OL this year, especially the backups. Actually we wouldn't put first team OL in the ugly category, they belong in maybe the bad category.  However, we simply cannot afford to have any injuries to our starting line. Our OL looks like it is struggling and like they just can't match our DL at any position, which probably doesn't bode well for our schedule as this same line was dominated by many teams last year. They looked confused too, which comes with having a 4th OL coach in 5 years.
  • Bob Connelly, new OL Coach. We got a chance to see up close Bob Connelly with the OL in drills. He was barking orders and trying to teach players proper footing, stance, positioning, hitting, etc. We don't know what's going on in the locker room, the field, or in the minds of the players and coaches, but we do know what we saw. It did not appear to us that the players like this guy. They were just lazily dialing it in and this was only Day 3. In fact, this is the truth, Connelly ranted at one point, "We are not just going to go through the motions today." Day 3 and you already have to say that Bob?! Whoa. Seriously, the OL is going to be our weak spot for several reasons, and Connelly we suspect is one of them. We hope the players prove us wrong!
  • Dorrell the WR coach. While the team broke off into drills several times, Dorrell took over the WR for some of it. We could not hear what he was saying, but he just looked like he was playing catch, enjoying himself as he threw the ball from one 3rd string guy to the next. It seemed out of line with his position as head coach. Meanwhile, Walker is seriously involved in getting the defense in order, intimately involved, focused ... and the drills are solidly executed. Training Jay is intimately involved in getting the offense to learn his plays. And Dorrell looks like he is playing catch with some bench warmers. Call it what you will, it just didn't look right to us. Knowing what is at stake this year, it was on the ugly side.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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