Jeff_is_smiling, who puts up many well reasoned and thought posts on both Bruin Report Online and Bruin Gold forums, posted some interesting notes on this past Saturday's scrimmage. While the reports in the traditional media filed consistent (and boiler plate) stories on how the defense dominated the offense on Saturday, Jeff made the following observations re. our quarterbacks play from this past Saturday and spring practice to date (he has attended few other practices in addition to the Sat's scrimmage):
One thing about our passing this early part of spring practices - we are definitely taking what the defense gives us. If the CB's are playing off the LOS, we check out of the play and throw a quick hitch to that side and take the 5 yard play. I like that.
One other thing I like about the spring so far is that the QB's are looking downfield more than the last few years. As a result, we are getting more 15-20 yard completions than in the past. Another good sign. And since the dfense knows we are stretching the field more, delay routes across the middle in the shorter distances have been money as well. The variety of the attack in the passing game is getting very exciting to see.
An example that illustrates the things I said above comes from the scrimmage. Prince was at QB. He saw the coverage for the WR being deeper and so he threw a quick hitch to him (Rosario)>, only he threw the ball too low and it was incomplete. The very next play, in a similar alignment, he AGAIN threw the same quick hitch to Rosario - only this time on the money and Rosario went for maybe 10 yards.
Hmm. One of the more amusing posts from this past year (on BN and elsewhere) was how CRN and his coaches were not calling plays asking their QBs to throw downfield. lol I am going to assume that will change once we have QBs such as Prince or Brehaut acclamated to game speed. While Craft is a warrior and a great kid, the fact is the coaches were calling plays that fit his athletic ability (and capacity to read receivers). I can't wait to see our offense this season with QBs who can throw down field (and can read offenses better). So in that sense Jeff's notes are encouraging. More practice observations from Jeff:
What did I take away from the scrimmage? More hope than I have read by some reports I think. THis is only week 2 of spring practices. This was a PRACTICE with a scrimmage in it. The offensive play-calling was not in "game form" (as in down and distance calls), but used to see where the players stand at this EARLY point of the spring practices. Not all the plays have been installled, and some were installed as recently as Thursday. Miscommunication and errors need to be expected I think.
There WERE holes for the RB's to run thru, but the defense IS our defense and Price and Carter are beasts. It would worry me if we ran easily on the defense. What I would characterize the scrimmage as would be "competitive." We looked competitive offensively against our defense. We looked to be able to get outside with the ball. We looked to have speed in the backfield. We threw the ball downfield more in the Monday thru Thursday practices than we did in the scrimmage though. Was that due to the pass rush, or the plays scripted?
Our pass protections broke down at times, though some of the "sacks" were not sacks, but early whistles by the refs to protect the QB (though the QB's were not in danger of getting sacked at the time the whistle was blown).
There are many things to work on offensively, but I see enough to give me more hope that we will field a competitive offense when we suit it up for real. The team has the remainder of spring, the spring game, the off-season workouts and 7-on-7 workouts before fall camp begins. Plenty of time to iron out some of the issues AND get to full health going into Fall camp.
You can read rest of Jeff's notes here (and oh BTW make sure to check out the football section of the official site, where videos are being posted from practices (I wish they were being uploaded on YouTube, but hey that's for discussion on another day)).
Again I am not going to get too hopeful from these practice observations given experiences from reading practice notes from over the years. However, fwiw I do recall last year posters being pretty realistic about their assessments of Craft and Forcier from their practice observations in spring and fall. Some of these encouraging notes are coming from the same folks who didn't sound all that optimistic (and some would say they were being pragmatic) heading into 2008 season.
Anyway, I imagine next season is still going to be entail some more growing pains with a team that is going to break in brand new QB(s). But I think there are some signs of hope of incremental improvement for 09 season after these first week and half of spring ball. Let's cross our fingers that the team continues to gain confidence with the new QBs and get through rest of this camp without any major injuries (knocking on wood).