Spring Game Thoughts: Offense

Spring Game Thoughts: Offense

April 14, 2013

Redshirt junior Devin Gardner (11/16, 138 yards, 1 touchdown) looked pretty good for the most part, although he threw a ball right into Desmond Morgan’s hands.  I will say that redshirt freshman walk-on Brian Cleary (3/11, 32 yards, 1 touchdown) looked better than I expected, and quite honestly, he looked every bit as capable as currently injured redshirt sophomore Russell Bellomy did; Cleary’s command of the offense and pocket presence are questionable, but he throws a nice ball and has decent arm strength.  Alex Swieca (4/6, 38 yards) is really  slow getting out from under center.

Junior Thomas Rawls (6 carries, 36 yards, 1 touchdown) had a nice 14-yard touchdown run, but it certainly helped that he was running against guys like Mark Lawson and Terry Richardson on that play.  He did show some nice vision on a late run with a cutback, but otherwise, most of the running back play was mediocre.  Redshirt sophomore Justice Hayes (2 carries, 1 yard) made a poor read on one run and got tackled for a safety.  Sophomore Dennis Norfleet (4 carries, 18 yards) looked the most capable of creating big plays, but he needs space; he had a couple nice runs, but when the running lanes were clogged up on another, he just balled up for about a four-yard loss.  Redshirt freshman Drake Johnson (3 carries, 2 yards) looked decent catching a screen pass, but he didn’t stand out as a runner.

Sophomore Sione Houma (1 catch, 10 yards) looked pretty good on a catch-and-run. Redshirt sophomore Joe Kerridge looked good as a lead blocker.

There wasn’t much to glean from this position group.  Fifth year senior Jeremy Gallon (3 catches, 18 yards) made a couple nice plays, senior Jeremy Jackson (2 catches, 35 yards) caught a couple short passes, and sophomore Amara Darboh made an over-the-shoulder grab for about 30 yards to start the scrimmage.  Otherwise, there were a lot of throws to fullbacks, running backs, and tight ends.

Sophomore Devin Funchess (2 catches, 42 yards) still doesn’t really understand how to block, but boy, can he catch the ball.  Sophomore A.J. Williams (1 catch, 6 yards) seemed to get a little quicker by losing about 20 lbs., and that seems to have helped his blocking.  Redshirt junior Jordan Paskorz looks a little overwhelmed out there.  Freshman Jake Butt (1 catch, 12 yards, 1 touchdown) made a nice touchdown catch, but he too needs to work on his blocking and got pushed around a little bit by guys like Cam Gordon.

The starters appear to be Taylor Lewan, Ben Braden, Jack Miller, Kyle Kalis, and Michael Schofield (from left to right).  There were lots of blown pass protections; if Mattison stunted against the young offensive linemen, it was basically guaranteed to confuse them.  There are too many guys to mention here, but overall, the run blocking looks better than last year, but the pass blocking seems to have taken a step back.  The team has some good athletes in the pipeline to play left tackle (redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson, freshman Logan Tuley-Tillman).  Redshirt sophomore Jack Miller had a snafu on a snap, but overall, he looked like the best center.  Redshirt freshman Blake Bars was getting pushed around quite a bit; he looks thin.  Tuley-Tillman looked pretty thin and underdeveloped, while Braden looked absolutely massive.  Redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant will probably always look a little sloppy, but he’s powerful; he just isn’t moving like he should be, whether that’s a permanent thing or if he’s still working his way back into condition after the broken leg.


  1. Comments: 21381
    Apr 14, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Went to the game yesterday and just some observations….

    1. Gardner looks to be the real deal. He commands then offense and has the size to do it. You could tell he wanted to break a few, but held back.

    2. Cleary looks to have about the same height as Gardner, but he definitely doesn't know then offense and definitely needs some weight room time. If he can mentally catch on, he could be a sleeper. Nice arm coming right out of HS.

    3. Swieca looked incredibly small out of the 3 and is stout. There were times where he looked as though he couldn't see over the line before they stood up. Probably will never see the field unless there is another injury. (Let's hope).

    4. Ash is HUGE……but not super athletic.

    5. Kalis doesn't like to get beat. He lined up during drills and was beaten (couldn't see by who). He then went right back to the line for a redo and clearly with a temper. Took care of business with no problem. He could be fun to watch.

    6. Ben Braden looks the part. Very athletic.

    7. None of the backs look great. From my opinion this is a fight between Toussaint and Green. Everyone else is looking for a niche role or mop up time. Hayes is shifty and maybe with some big holes he could do it, but with big holes so could most of the others. Just my 2 cents.

    8. WR group was meh. Gallon is Gallon and we all expect great things. Dileo is Dileo……we are gonna have to see Darboh and Chesson step up. They physically look the part so it may just be the Spring Game and the limited Offense. Jackson looked good, he has the physical tools, but can he do it on game day? (Hasn't proven it yet)

    9. Funchess can catch. That pass over the middle was way over his head in live action (he slowed his route part way through) but he somehow caught it. I was even more amazing live. AJ Williams is HUGE. He will move to the OL soon if he can't shed more weight, unless they like placing a 300lb TE on the field for blocking. Could come.in handy when Shane takes over.

    10. James Ross III could be special. He has a nose for the ball and always seems to be near it. His instincts cannot be taught. Needs some more size, but he is always there.

    Just some observations.

    • Comments: 21381
      Apr 15, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      Great summary, and thank you for the live perspective. My only comment was about your point 9. In the broadcast they actually said AJ has lost 20 lbs, and as I saw him on TV, I thought the same, so I think he is working to get more athletic, and at least be a dump off threat. With Butt and Funchess looking like more offensive weapons than blockers our need for AJ to be a blocking TE isn't going away any time soon.

    • Comments: 21381
      Apr 15, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      Yeah, I believe Williams was something like 284 last year, and now he's about 265. He looked thinner on Saturday.

  2. Comments: 21381
    Apr 14, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Houma looks very quick for his size. I was squinting to figure out which running back he was on the BTN cast until the play ended. Kerridge must really be plowing linebackers to keep Houma off the field.

    Chesson was targeted, but one of those was a miscue between him and Cleary and on the other the ball was late and Taylor broke it up. Spring highlights so far have revealed him as a frequent target.

    Willie Henry was clobbering that second-team OL like nobody's business, but I'm sure you'll get to that later.

  3. Comments: 21381
    Apr 14, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    The most important thing I took away from the offense was we scored 3 touchdowns in the redzone. The last 5 years were either a Denard big run or pass, or field goals in redzone. We have so many big targets now, plus you got Devin who can run or throw. Defense should always be better in the spring, but Im encouraged about the offense.

  4. Comments: 21381
    Apr 15, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Magnus, don't know if you were live, but did you see anything with some of the underclassman Offensive lineman. We have had two great classes there and I'm excited to see more depth and more plug and play year after year as we move forward.

    • Comments: 21381
      Apr 15, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      I couldn't watch it live. I think Braden, Kalis, and Miller looked pretty solid in the running game. The pass protection could use some help, and I think that was mostly Braden and Kalis, with a little bit of Glasgow in there, too. I think Miller's going to be okay in there.

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