Spring Game Wrap Up

I watched the film that Alpha put up in the #37 Club. Thanks for that Alpha.

I made my point about choosing to be an optimist over a pessimist, just a view point, here are a few limited observations. I wasn’t at the spring game, just followed it on twitter and saw limited clips. So this is hardly a comprehensive look, definitely a view point based upon a snap shot in time…

#1: I WOULD be concerned, if two things occurred this spring that occurred in regularity last fall. First from what I saw on film this spring the compete level, the attitude in a million times better than last fall. Whether that hangs around, I don’t know, but early reports the coaches attitudes along with players are at least anecdotally better. Second, I saw coaching adjustments. Limited film obviously, but Stitt has said every year that he would correct things. The spring both offensively and defensively I saw some things that I like. If we saw a repeat of last fall (2×2 formations, man coverage, etc) despite the increase of talent, I think we would have a right to be concerned. I think we see some continued evolution of scheme to match personnel.

#2: I get the lamenting over the QB play, but I think it will be fine. I saw three picks into disguised coverages. Two yesterday (Phillips both times) and Jensen the week before. Semore was throwing some zone drop scheme, tampa 2 and some switch coverages. Phillips, Jensen and Hill all showed significant upside, but their basement right now is lower. Phillips obviously struggles with pressing balls into tight spaces. That was a great play call defensively to run a zone drop. Phillips didn’t see him, and was baited into the throw. Hill is a bit like Chalich, in that he has happy feet and will run a bit even when the pressure isn’t there. If things slow down, Hill will be fine. Jensen makes a ton of heady plays but he isnt at times very good at diagnosing defenses. He is a freshman, and I do believe he has the highest upside of the three.

I didn’t see a lot of vanilla from the first team defense, and maybe that was out of design. I would, because I think it is a bit better to evaluate quarterbacks. Semore made the first team experience offense difficult, because that first 11 he has is at this point miles ahead of the offense.

#3: This defense can be really, really good. Remember it was missing several key elements of the defense this spring (including the whole linebacking corps) and all it did was show that it has some skill to go along with a further developed defensive scheme. I think there were a number of adjustments that had to be made.

  • Semore had to have known that staying in man, had to have been a significant weakness in last years scheme. The variance in coverages, the changes in alignments, position changes, and blitz concepts show that Semore and his staff spent a lot of time this winter creating a deeper and more diverse scheme.
  • A person might be apt to down play the offense, and that too would be appropriate, but the most significant part that I like about this defense is that it has the three A’s: assertive, attitude, and athletic. Moving Sandry put him in a position to be a better player. Reduces reads. Sims is going to be a force inside. He was already a FBS fringe player at end, but moving him inside permanently is going to make Semore’s defense much more the utility tool that he wanted it to be last year. Sims is athletic enough to play DT, DE and ILB.

#4: I would need more film to confirm it, but I really do think the O Line will show incredible growth. Schye/Sims are just plain freaks and I think it is good to remember that. Apparently Jace Lewis is too. A lot of the pocket break down wasn’t from blunt force 4 man pressure. Semore brought 5/6 man pressure with stunts, odd fronts and unique blitz concepts. What I saw on a number of the pocket breakdowns is fixed by film work. A lot of doubling a guy, but not getting their eyes right or following a stunt inside and getting beat with a loop.

  • The O-Line missed Reece, and yes Ralston and Beaver got waylaid by speed rushes by DE’s. I don’t think you can dismiss that, but a lot of that is fixed by two things. The first is a full depth offensive scheme that will slow down the d-line a bit. I think that showed on some of the third and long stuff, and neither really have had a tremendous amount of time at the position. The second is an increased emphasis on footwork. You can tell they were a bit tall on certain cases, or their kick steps weren’t as deep or as assertive as some OL coaches want.
  • From limited viewing the QB’s and RB’s will help as well. Spring games are sort of a perverse universe. You are repping 3 new quarterbacks, you don’t have your full allotment of RB’s and a scheme that is at this point a bit restricted. I think it creates an environment where the offense can be far more passive than the defense. Defenses are almost always miles ahead because you can cover up issues in spring ball by bringing heat. Heat was going to cause the QB’s problems, and the o-line too.
  • I also think we’ll see an emergence of two or three guys in fall drills, with an extra summer of footwork, drills and experience to increase competition on the OL. I think the group is attitudinally different, and I think will respond positively. At least that is at least what I am to gather from the word on the street. They got their asses handed to them at times this spring, but they played with good edge and competed.

Conclusions:

The pessimism reigns supreme. The offense wasn’t all that efficient, but I don’t think it is the island of misfit toys that it was the past two years. I think that we will see growth, in part because this at least from removed observers point of view, seems to be a much more cohesive unit offensively. I think the parts work better together. It might be rough early, but the upside for this group is higher I think than the past two ¬†years.

To me Semore dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s on the checklist of things that needed to be tweaked in his scheme, personnel decisions from last year. There is a bevy of talent in the front 7 and an emergent group at safety that could prove to be a more comprehensive group than we have had since the 2011.

I don’t think I saw much of anything this spring, other than I hoped one QB would have taken control, that would lower expectations for the upcoming season. There is a whole summer to tweak, bring some new faces in over the summer and get back to doing work work in the fall.