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Spaulding Roundup: (Craft) Making An Impression

So it sounds like there has been some movement in quarterback competition. According to the press reports Craft has stepped up. He is making an impression on the coaching staff earning more reps. According to Dohn he “took almost every snapwith the fist team yesterday:

Neither coach Rick Neuheisel nor offensive coordinator Norm Chow made the leap to say Craft was the starter for the Sept. 1 season opener against Tennessee at the Rose Bowl, but the structure of practice was unmistakable.

"I think it's necessary the starting quarterback gets a lot of reps," Chow said. "The other guy gets a lot of reps as well. He just doesn't get them with the starting guys. ... reps are very important at practice."

A day after performing well, especially in a red-zone drill, Craft continued to outperform Forcier. Craft was more accurate, made few mistakes, and is picking the correct receiver most of the time.

"His decision-making, he's done a nice job," Neuheisel said. "Most of the time he's where he should be. Sometimes he's there late. Sometimes he's there quick. But he's where he should be."

Neuheisel said Craft's feet and arm need to be in sync with his mind so the timing is better in the passing game.

More from Neuheisel and Chow in the LA Times:

"He is making progress, so is Chris," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. When asked whether Craft has a better grasp of the offense, Neuheisel said "probably, that's fair."

Offensive coordinator Norm Chow said that Craft is further along than Forcier.

"Any time a guy is able to get the amount of reps that is necessary, there is improvement," Chow said. "He still has a long way to go. . . . Being a quarterback is not all about physical skills, it's about understanding what you need to do."

I think it is encouraging to hear Craft stepping up but as the coaches said themselves he still has ways to go in terms of syncing in physical skills with his mindset as the on field leader of this team. And that will happen depending on how he reacts during actual game situations. Also the weekend scrimmage will also help him get more comfortable and give coaches more information on where there QBs are in terms of their ongoing development. Meanwhile, Forcier cannot let himself get down by these press reports. He needs to come back with more intensity and focus working with the second team. As we have seen from over the years given the uncertainty around our OL, our QBs always need to be mentally prepared and alert because they could find themselves leading the team just like that.

For what its worth while Chow and Neuheisel have been chipping away to develop their young QBs, DeWayne Walker is encouraged in what he is seeing in Craft and Forcier:

A guy like him, he and (Chris) Forcier, they’re a defensive nightmare, because they can get first downs with their legs. Anytime they can move around the pocket and flick the ball around and move the sticks, they’re a pain in the butt. That’s the advantage they have over Ben (Olson). They’re going to be able to get first downs with their legs and move in the pocket.

Walker made those comments in a Q&A with the OC Register in which he also offered the following observation re. going up against Chow:

Norm (Chow), I’ll tell you what, he makes me work. It’s a chess match with this guy every day. He’s making us better. He’s making us have to cross our Ts and dot our Is. We got to compete. It’s not really about our offense. We’re trying to get ready for Tennessee as well. They’re giving us everything we can handle. And I’m serious about that.

I am hoping the Chow-Walker matchups at practice everyday will make our defense more prepared when they go up against college teams with spread offenses this season (more on that later).

Also on defense redshirt freshman Steve Sloan has been getting some reps at MLB as Carter has sat out few practices due to concussion. And according to Walker there is silver lining to this:

That is not a bad thing, according to defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who wants to get the defensive backup quarterback some work with the first-team defense.

"Sloan is fine," Walker said. "Our (middle linebacker) doesn't have to be the best athlete, but they've got to be smart. He will be smart. I think it's good to get Sloan some reps."

Carter should be back to practice by the end of this week. BTW I think Walker’s comments are significant because it should stop people from freaking out from reading every single details concerning (expected) bumps and bruises from two-a-day camps. Dohn reported that Embree left the field with a sore shoulder and that RT Nate Chandler’s right foot was in a walking boot. According to Mark Saxon from the OC Register Chandler has a “turf toe” and could get back to practice this evening. Yet as Walker pointed out above these bumps and bruises mean someone else gets to step in and make impressions on the coaching staff.