Saturday, August 11, 2007

Scrimmage Debrief

It was a great day for the first scrimmage of the preseason at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday morning, as we finally got a break from the heat to enjoy some actual college football (as opposed to, you know, the CFL or something.) First off I'd suggest that everyone check out the official release from Scott S. over at, which includes quotes from Coach Johnson and a nice summery of the events. My thoughts are as followed:

First and foremost, which players were the most impressive? I guess to answer that question we first have to take a scrimmage like this into context. Not only were some of Navy's best players not in the lineup for the day (minor precautionary reasons) but the purpose of the first scrimmage is to find out who can play on the team and who can't. Yes, Reggie Campbell was impressive every time he touched the football, but then again we already knew that. Today was less about getting the ball to the play makers and piling up points than it was about finding out how different groups of players work together and which guys from the second and third team have a shot at breaking out. As far as commenting on the first team offense goes, I will say that Kaipo looked sharp in the pocket today, and although he only completed half of his passes he seems to have more zip on the ball and more confidence in the pocket. It's also worth noting that he had some very good protection up front. Ballard ran strong as usual, and the first team offense line did a good job moving the first team defensive line back (for the most part.) The "D" did do a good job tightening up in the red zone as the scrimmage possessed, but it's more then fair to say the offense is ahead of the defense (as we expected.)

The second and third team offenses however seemed to struggle, particularly with basic concepts like taking care of the football. Readers of this site know that I am an unabashed fan of both Jarod Bryant and Troy Goss, but they each gave it back to the defense while playing with the first team (Jarod threw one to Blake Carter, Troy lost a fumble to Matt Nechak.) Blocking is still inconsistent with both the second and third teams, although their were some nice runs by the slotbacks, particularly Andre Byrd and Greg Shinego. Plebe Greg Jones also did some good things with the third team at slot back, as did Scott Oswald, who while still struggling with blocking assignments is getting better. The receivers need to show more poise and better hands while at the same time understanding their blocking assignments. There is a lot of raw talent on the second team, but it seems like a number of players are still struggling with the basic concepts of this offense.

Alright, on to the important stuff. Possible risers in the depth chart? I think you have to start with two plebes, those being QB Ricky Dobbs and SB Andre Byrd. Dobbs saw time with the second team and looked impressive running the ball. He spent some time at NAPS so it's obvious that he has an understanding of the offense to compliment his great athletic ability. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him listed on the three deep when Monday's depth chart comes out. As for Andre Byrd, he's obviously an outstanding athlete as well and could have a bright future. He reminds me a lot of Reggie Campbell with his running style. His height (5'7ish) allows him to run low to the ground and his patience and quickness are unmatched by the other plebe slotbacks. He's someone to keep an eye on in the future. On defense, Michael Walsh may be entrenching his spot at right end, while Andy Lark has quietly moved up in the order of things and could contend for a backup job. I also think Ram Vela may be able to put himself in contention for the nickel back spot by camp's end.

As for the defensive side of the ball, well, I hate to use this cliche, but they did some good things and they did some not so good things. I thought big Nate Frazier had a very good day, and liked seeing the kind of penetration he was able to get. I know Antron wasn't in there to challenge him, but he was able to cause some serious disruption in the backfield. Chris Kahur-Pitters did some good things as well. I like our linebackers all around. Their were some pads popping and in general they flew to the football well. Coming off blocks quicker is still a concerns (especially against the first team), but for the most part they did a good decent job. Secondary shows some promise. I like Ram Vela at corner and it seems like he's made some major strides since spring, while plebe Wyatt Middleton showed some toughness in on tackles. While were on the subject of hitting, anyone know who layed the wood on Bobby Doyle to cause the fumble Thiel scored on? I don't remember seeing much of this, but apparently Jeff Deliz did some good things as well (2 tfl.) Just as a side note, I tend to focus on the offense more (as most fans do) and it's fairly easy for me to lose track of what's going on in the secondary unless the play is right in front of me.

All and all, this wasn't a bad first scrimmage. It wasn't great, but it wasn't "freaking awful" as Paul Johnson would say. Whenever you have a lot of plebes out on the field (as there were) poise is going to be an issue, as was the case today. The first team offense is still well ahead of the defense, but we all knew that coming into camp. The point is that our defense will be fine. By "fine" I don't mean shutting people out, but there is enough talent and aggressiveness here that teams aren't just going to roll right on down the field. As far as things getting stressed in practice this week, I think it's got to be decision making and taking care of the football on offense. I think Coach Johnson will use Dobbs' play to push Jarod and Troy, who in their own right did some good things today. I think there might also be some attention paid to blocking on the perimeter once the tape is reviewed. That and knowing where you are on the field, as I saw one to many guys run into each other and botch a quarterback-fullback exchange. On defense, it's got to be what it always is. Discipline, tackling, and flying to the football.

That's it for now, at least until I can think of some more stuff I've probably forgotten and left out. I'll be back on Monday with some comments on the latest depth chart, and maybe even some thoughts on all this Maryland nonsense we keep hearing about.


Football Dad Dan said...

I tend to agree with your overall assessment of Saturday morning's scrimmage. Kaipo did certainly seem to throw the pigskin w/ some "zip" & conviction, ... albeit badly underthrew the two long passes he attempted. Neither Bryant/Goss looked very sharp though.
Trying to run the "QB-keeper/pitch" portion of the option is tough to do against your own defense as I noted that the corners immediately came up to press the Slot Back once the Dee recognized the play, ... so no surprise that big gainers were almost non-existant. Other than that one 24 yard gain by Reggie Campbell on that toss play, ... didn't see him do anything out of the ordinary with the ball? Seemed to me that before he went out with the badly spraine ankle (almost @ the half-way point of the scrimmage), Greg Shinego was the most productive of the Slot Backs running the ball ---> He consistently gained 5+ yards (many self-manufactured as there seemed to be little blocking) on all of his carries. Any word on the seriousness of his injury?

Adam said...

Thanks for the comment. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Reggie is on another level athletically than the rest of the team. Had the offense wanted to score points, I'm sure Reggie could have run all over the place, but the point of the scrimmage was to see what different guys could do. Shingo is a guy I've always been impressed with, and he's clearly the 4th slot back at this point. I also really like Byrd, Doyle, and Oswald at SB. Shun White told me a few weeks ago that Greg would be much more involved this year. Injuries aren't serious; mostly people are just a little banged up.

Football Dad Dan said...

No argument from me here ... Reggie Campbell is definetly the #1 SB on the squad, ... and has the speed & power to break loose on any given play.
Shun White showed he has speed to burn a few games last season (and was awesome against BC in the bowl game --> where he should have gotten more pitches tossed his way in the 4th quarter in my opinion), ... but as I recall had a some what poor spring game, and has been out with a "tweaked hammy" over a week now (so hopefully he will be 100% come this weekend's scrimmage). Both Doyle & Oswald have good size& potential, ... and this "scat-back" Byrd kid sure raised a few folks out of their seats on Saturday. I'm guessing that his performance coming against a fatigued 2nd/3rd string defense somewhat late in the scrimmage "mitigated" the impact in the coach's mind wrt the revised depth chart???
Shinego's ankle was iced pretty heavily, ... and he was limping badly at the end of the event --> Bad sprains, like hamstrings can sometimes linger.

Adam said...

Hmm, not to sure about Shinego's ankle. I'll keep my eye out with Paul Johnson's press transcripts.

Byrd sure looked impressive in the scrimmage; we'll have to see if he gets some more looks this Saturday.

Shack's Daddy said...

Although I didn't attend the scrimmage, a reliable source has informed me that Greg Thrasher made the fumble-inducing hit on Bobby Doyle.