Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Football - Sunday Scrimmage Report

Robbie, one of our loyal readers, attended Sunday's practice and scrimmage and sent me the following write-up on the game. Thanks Robbie !!

Spring Practice: Sunday April 9, 2006 @ 4pm

Well everyone, a detailed Sunday practice report is a little late but better now than never right? Considering the weather we all just went through, Sunday afternoon was the rainbow after the storm. Beautiful Spring afternoon and no better place to be than on the Flats watching the Jackets knock helmets with each other. The crowd was pretty good from what I have been accustomed to in the past. As practice went on, even more people decided to come out. I was very impressed to say the least. Most left before practice ended though. The sun was pretty rough. I got sun burned! Note to self...sit on shady side. I encourage more of you to come out if you can make it. Especially the weekend ones!

Most of you have probably already read some reports from the practice from other sources but I thought I would give you a little more in depth observation details than the obvious. The obvious of course was little No. 20 (Jamaal Evans) making a case for himself at RB while the defense was back to its old self taking advantage of young QBs and forcing many INTs. Yeah...the play calling and play making where vanilla but this was a VERY intense and hard hitting practice. Note that I paid more attention to the Offense this practice and thus have little less detail with the defense. I will focus on the defense when I am able to attend another practice this week.


I got there just as they were putting the finishing touches on punt team/return team drills. Not sure who was punting (didn't have my player notes and #'s; forgot it) but a few times he would absolutely drill it from what my position seemed like the 30 (LOS) to the 30. He line drived a few as well which did not look good at all. He got blocked once but that wasn't his fault...blown blocking assignment. If this is Brooks...consistency is definitely a WIP. Leg strength...NOT a problem.


Overview -

Pretty Vanilla but what do you expect? We started the scrimmage under center. That lasted but a few plays with the QB on his behind. Quickly adjusted to our "spread" offensive formations. Shotgun with combinations of two or three WR/one or two TE/QB/RB. Two formations were of interest to me. One was a two TE (offset behind the line)/two WR/QB/RB shotgun very reminicent of the days of the Fridge. The other was a traditional 3WR/1TE/QB/RB shotgun. It was JJ, Calvin, TB, Cooper, and Choice...the surprise being Grant lined up in the slot! Oh the possibilities! We ran a lot of option pitches regardless of the formation with a lot of success. More so against second team D. We were dinking the defenses on the boundary a lot with the short pass. Quick passes to the WR and TEs (yes...we were throwing to the TEs quite a bit!). Formula: Running Game + Quick Passes = what we normally know of as the "answer" to a Coach JT defense. Understandable. It was for the most part successful...well...more so for the second team O vs second team D than the first O vs first D. But the offenses held their own against intense pressure.

Offensive Line -

Drills: Coach D is fun to watch. He is very much like Coach JT. Not as loud or intense but close. They were performing some sort of line drills where a defender would line up on either side of the Offensive Lineman. They would line up one, three, or five wide. Coach D would call snap and the offensive lineman had to use technique to shuffle their feet while getting under the defender and using his leverage to either blow him off the line or just stand him up. Worked on blocking assignments with simulated blitzes and stunts too. Coach D was in their face the whole time. Didn't like what he saw...made the player do it again...and again...and again. Constantly instructing. He would do this during scrimmage as well as he watched the line from just behind the play. I found this absolutely fasinating. Its a wonder we are beginning to mature a very talented and big offensive line. And Coach D is a big part. Lets hope we can add recruits such as stud Chris Little to this talented and big OL for the future.

Player Notes: Wrotto was getting beat by our speed DEs (MJ and Robertson). It happened a few times. By the way Coach D was working on him it appeared to be more technique than skill or talent. What was fascinating and shows you Wrotto's love for his new position and willingness to learn was how intense and interactive he was with Coach's D's one on one instruction. Coach D was working on Trey Dunmon a lot as well even saying out loud "Come on Trey...show me what you got!". Other than that everyone seemed to have played a great scrimmage. And Coach D was praising them when they did things right. Folks...Andrew Gardner is a future NFL player. He is so big and athletic. No one gets by him and on the INTs he was one of the first players to get to the ball carrier to take him down. What hustle!

Skill Positions -

QB: Audibles/Checks...yes...that is exactly what you just read. TB and JG appeared to be calling audibles/checks. When the defense would show blitz...TB would often check to another play. I am pretty certain because I heard someone at one point yell from the offensive players/coaches gathering "Great Change" (maybe from Nix?) when we ran the ball after the defense showed and then committed to a blitz. The play was a sizeable gainer. Didn't seem to work for the O all the time but still...it was nice to see. TB and JG played well IMHO. TB has one heck of a loud and gutteral cadence. Got the first team D to jump off sides a few times. Everytime it happened TB would keep the play going and one time it lead to a CJ TD on a fade to the corner of the EZ. Both QBs are very composed and moved well in the pocket to avoid pressure. IMHO, not all the INTs were bad decisions but they seemed more along the lines of the decision to force the issue than throw the ball away. I counted only two that were thrown poorly and one that was a jump ball to CJ that Scott finally got the better of. More experience will make the decision making better. Both run the option/keeper surprisingly well. TB is surprisingly quick for his size. BAckup QBs developing nicely. I really want to see RB out their again to see what he can do.

RB: No. 20...Jamaal Evans. No wonder CCG wanted nothing to do with recruiting RBs after Kelly and Evans signed. Evans is a talent and he has turned his size into a weapon by waiting on blockers and playing hide and seek with defenders. He changes speed really well and changes direction without having to slow down. Broke some big runs. He is fast. And he will lower the shoulder too...not afraid to take a hit. Oh...did I mention he can block...if you call throwing your body kamakaze style at a defender as blocking...but it was VERY effective with him often cutting the legs from the rusher. TC and RG had decent gains on a few runs and both did a great job of picking up blitzers on a few plays. Impressive.

WR: CJ. We finally got the ball to him a few times so as to use his open field skills. Once was a WR screen close to the sideline. He accelerated (WOW...how can someone that big move that fast?) and tip-toed the sideline for a big gain. Unfortunately, we tried it again later only to have CJ get a rude meeting by about three defenders. Whop! We were also able to get him the ball on a quick slant. Can't remember which QB threw it and how the QB was able to get rid of it and thread it through traffic but it was near his knees. CJ caught it, made a couple of moves, accelerated down the middle of the field, and absorbed a few hits before being brought down for a sizeable gain. Chris Dunlap caught a TD when the offense was close the EZ. It was more so over the middle and in stride. Great pass by TB. Once of the big surprises for me was Andrew Smith. Where did he come from? He had a very good scrimmage. Was a ball catching machine! Caught a ball on an out which the CB seemed to give up on not thinking the WR would catch it but he did. Then Andrew avoided the tackle with a move and made a big gain down the sideline. Also caught a TD on a slant with the offense in the Red Zone close to GL.

TE: WOW! TEs were getting balls and catching them. Not for big gains but still. One of the reserve TEs caught a TD ball. Mooneyham I think was his name. Cooper caught one ball and then made one of the collisions of the day. Cooper caught the ball on what seemed to be a bootleg and ran down field. Two defenders met him with a whop that made the crowd go Oh! Cooper...got the better end of that deal. He is a load. I am pleased with seeing the TEs get the ball more.


Overview -

Blitz...blitz...and blitz some more. Send 5, 6, or even eight. Send the safeties...send the CBs...send coaches...send my grandmother...you get the point. Geez...we watch our defense blitz on TV and think nothing of it. But when you are standing on the field and see these 6-3 230 lb LBs and even bigger DLs rushing the line and bouncing in their stance before the snap...it is scary. I can see why young QBs crap in their pants when facing this defense. Its intimidating. Another description of our defense. SPEED. Our guys close so fast. Well...those worried that our D will not be able to produce TOs like last year would rest easy after this practice. Tipped balls, jumping routes, etc. all helped the D gather 6 ints. Both offenses had their way early with the defenses but later in the scrimmage the first team D adjusted and made a few stops on the first team O if they didn't turn them over. CJT is fun to watch like Coach D. He stands in the EZ even when the defense is 50+ yards a way. Before, during, and even after the play he is always yelling. Whether its getting a player into position before the snap, encouraging the D to "Wrap Him UP!" during a play, or yell at player who blew an assignment he too is constantly teaching. He is just a little more military in your face that Coach D.

DL: Not much to say here except that IMHO MJ and DR (Robertson) are going to be potential stars for us. Both are tall, big, and fast. When they were able to get into the backfield they wrecked havoc. MJ forced a fumble on a sack of TB. Didn't recognize any of the other players in there though. Like I said I was focused on the offense for this practice.

LB: I think Wheeler had an INT. Can't help much here. Should have paid more attention.

CB/S: They played well. Jumped routes, catching tipped balls, etc. They made the QBs pay for mistakes. Coverage was good for most of practice. Only CJ and Andrew Smith exploited them in a major way. TClark, Scott, PClark, and Lewis all had INTs. The second best collision of the day came from a run back of one of the INTs. Not sure if it was a safety or a LB but one of the OLs or TEs got leveled. Whop! We are talking Gary Guyton against VT leveled. Got some noise from the crowd on that one.


Well...that is as much as I can remember. It is early in the Spring but I have to give the nod to the defenses. But the gap is closing in comparison to last few years. The Offense no longer looks helpless in the face of the CJT blitzkrieg. It is now a matter of who can execute the best on their side of the ball.

Another point of interest is these players have a lot of family amd friends that come to practice. They all know each other, laugh, and talk. As the players left the field: mothers hugged their sons, fathers/brothers/friends shook their hands, and girlfriends gave a quick hug so as not to get all sweaty and stinky. With the coaches we have and the family atmosphere of this team...it made me wish that I was back in high school as a potential Division I football recruit. From what I witnessed today, GT would be at the top of my list.

Go Jackets,