There's a fair amount of hand-wringing about the offensive performance yesterday, especially considering the spring game turned into a cavalcade of points. Personally I don't think that's warranted yet, for two reasons:
-- The defense ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS gets their act together before the offense does at the start of fall practice, or training camp, or whatever. Defenses don't have as much to learn, unlike the offense, which has dozens if not hundreds of plays in their playbook. The defense gets in their sets and starts reacting. Take a look at some of these preseason NFL games if you want some more evidence. The offenses are barely on the same page and half these games are completely unwatchable because the defenses are crushing them.
-- Sure, B.J. Daniels and Dontavia Bogan and the rest of the offense went berserk in the spring game. But the "defense" in the spring game was about as basic as it gets. It was Pro Bowl defense - no extra defensive backs, no twisting or stunting on the defensive line, no blitzes. We even said as much right after the game. And that was after a month's worth of practice, instead of a week. I think Ken was at the scrimmage so maybe he can fill in the gaps and tell us if they let the defense match personnel, or do anything they weren't allowed to do in April. That would go a long way towards explaining why the first team had such a hard time moving the ball.
So I'm not prepared to panic yet. If we get to the third scrimmage and the defense is still dominating, then we might have a problem. And of course, the flip side of all this is that the defense made a bunch of plays. It's kind of the reverse of what Skip Holtz has said a couple of times after practice. Every time he sees a big play on one side of the ball in practice or in a scrimmage, he has to stop himself from getting too excited because that means the other side made a mistake.
Here's what everyone is saying about yesterday's scrimmage, which lasted about 150 plays, or more plays than both teams usually get off in a full 60-minute game. Part of the reason the scrimmage was bumped up from 100 snaps to 150 was to try and get the first-team offense going after their poor showing.
-- Greg Auman's recap includes all the gory statistical details. B.J. Daniels ended up 7-for-22 throwing the ball, and the running game averaged less than two yards a carry. Jamius Gunsby did a lot better, though, going 13-for-18 with a long touchdown pass to Faron Hornes.
-- In addition to his recap story, Phil Neary filed a slew of notes from the scrimmage for the Tribune. Some of the second-team offensive players, like Gunsby, Deonte Welch, and Isaac Virgin, came out with significantly more glory than the first-teamers.
-- Holtz didn't have too much time to talk after the scrimmage, because he had to get over to St. Petersburg to throw out the first pitch at the Rays-Orioles game. (It was a strike, of course.) But here's his post-practice interview.
-- Auman also caught up with offensive coordinator Todd Fitch.