Bumped. GO BRUINS. - BN Eds.
I posted these thoughts in the open thread after the game, but was asked to fanpost them, so here they are. I added a few more things that I left out.
First of all, Stubhub! Center is a fantastic venue. With how many people we were projected to have show up, running the game at a smaller venue ended up making the crowd look a bit more packed than it would have looked at the Rose Bowl. It definitely created a bigger atmosphere than I expected. As for the tailgate, the winds made things pretty difficult, but some groups did have grills out and officials didn’t seem to mind too much.
Second, I don’t know if you guys saw it on the Pac 12 Network feed, but we got the standard opening from the Rose Bowl, complete with CGI Bear scratching off both USC and VT, and chasing the Trojan + horse around. Really nice touch and a surprise for most of the people around me.
Anyway, on to actual stuff. Not surprised in the slightest that Hundley was only in 1 series, but he still stayed active on the sidelines, and really seems to be growing into a larger leadership position. As for the Woulard/Neuheisel debate, it really felt that Woulard was hampered by a coaching decision that basically mandated he throw the ball, as he ended up forcing a few passes when the better option would have been to tuck and run. Neuheisel looked better in the first half when he got to run the 1st team offense, while struggled mightily in the second when he was with the second string, which is the same unit Woulard was with all day. I’d have liked to see Woulard get a chance with the first team, but that never happened.
For receivers, I thought Lucien looked fine. He obviously knows he's the top receiver going into next year, and carried himself thusly. Jordan Payton looked the best of the 1st string receivers, and was the most physical of the bunch, using his body to create separation. Of all the RBs, Craig Lee looked decent playing in the 2nd string offense, and shouldered the majority of the load on that side, which was an interesting choice. Perkins looked the best of the James/Perkins/Manfro group, and Jordan seemed to have the most issues of the three (dropped an easy touchdown pass on a wheel route being the biggest).
Defensively, I thought Priest Willis looked much improved over where he was last season. I still think he’d be better utilized as a safety, as he had issues in coverage (he was the one who got burned on a long pass to Payton), but he had some nice physical plays during the game. Goodman was also really good in coverage, and it was nice to hear Owa’s name called a bunch of times. I’ve missed him. Kylie Fitts had himself a really good game, and I can't not root for him to succeed, simply because he flipped from USC to us. Adarius Pickett (EE freshman) looked incredibly good for this being his first time practicing with the team, and I think he has a legitimate shot at cracking the DB rotation. Jack was his usual spectacular self, but it was fun to see how much better he has become in coverage, which is where he seemed to play the majority of the game.
But overall, it was hard to get a good gauge on the team, which I mostly attribute to being a team scrimmage. The spring games are really the college equivalent of a preseason NFL game, with key contributors out (Hundley only playing one series, Whitley and Orjioke not in attendance, the group of injured players held out for precautions) and most of the incoming freshman not enrolled yet. In addition, most of the plays were rather vanilla, which is understandable as you don't want to put anything on tape for opponents if you can get away with it. Interestingly enough, we seemed to be in a 4-2-5 set on defense most of the game, with Owa dropping back into coverage occasionally. I'd look at how the defensive formation shakes out once we get some of the big contributors back.