"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
The Enemy Practices
Spring such and such for Michigan's most important 2007 opponents happened over the weekend. A recap!
I am of the opinion that when your fourth-string quarterback is the most impressive passer at your spring game, you might have issues. Anthony Morelli didn't play much; when he did BSD fill-in The Nittany Line didn't sound impressed. Neither did he endorse Austin Scott, who came to Penn State with a barrel of hype four years ago and has one good game against Florida State to show for it. He's the starter by default but...
Scott averaged 4.1 yards per carry on 13 carries but didn't really show me anything. He looked like he got to the corner pretty quick but I think he still tends to "dance" a bit when he should be burring his head and getting the extra yard. That may be an unfair assessment since I'm used to seeing Tony Hunt, the human plow, take tacklers head on. Like Mike thought, we didn't really get a chance to see Scott's blocking ability and that is probably his biggest weakness up to this point.
The wide receivers didn't show much that was unexpected. They're all decent enough but uninspiring. Sophomore Chris Bell had an impressive spring and should find himself featured at some point. He has something -- size -- that PSU's current cast of mighty mites lacks. Derrick Williams has not deviated from his distinctively Breastonian career path thus far.
Defense: Irritatingly, it appears that Chris Rogers -- a Pennsylvania native who transferred from Michigan after a redshirt year claiming homesickness -- is going to start at defensive end. Rogers either has rich or annoyed parents, since Big Ten rules prohibit Penn State from giving an intra-conference transfer any scholarship money.
The second corner is probably going to be AJ Wallace. We might be catching him at a vulnerable point:
Wallace got burned a couple of times last year in coverage, and JoePa's comments about Wallace in the pre-game presser are not especially encouraging: "When he's healthy, he's a very gifted athlete. [My only criticism is] every once in a while, he's a little loosey-goosey out there. When you're playing corner, loosey-goosey could be six points." Uh, no kidding.
BSD echoes that assessment:
A.J. seemed a tad lost a couple times I watched him, but he also showed me some really good recovery speed. I think it's only a matter of experience before Wallace fulfills the potential he came to PSU with.
Wallace was a fairly shirtless recruit a couple years ago and Justin King is a potential All-American (argh), but if Wallace is "loosey-goosey" and we manage to get Manningham lined up across from him great success could be in the offing.
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: Nothing of note happened in the Penn State spring. Morelli's the starting quarterback, there are major questions on the offensive line and in the person of talented but enigmatic Austin Scott. The defense projects to be at least pretty good, though they'll need someone to step forward on the line. No information was gathered on that project.
A similar situation: the big star of the spring game was someone called "Junior Jabbie," a man who sounds like the hero of a low-rent 80s-era knockoff arcade game, and his 87 rushing yards on 13 carries. I don't know if Jabbie's performance highlighted the absurdity of trying to draw conclusions from any spring game or what, because no Irish blogger bothered to say anything substantive. Rakes: nothing. HRB: nothing. Irish Roundtable: nothing. BGS: skepticism about the coming Jabbie era but little else about actual on-field events. A 10-6 victory where the only touchdowns come from a badly overthrown interception return and a wounded duck from a hit-while-throwing Demetrius Jones tends to mute enthusiasm.
I did find some impressions from the obscurer sections of Notre Dame blogdom, though not many. "Her Loyal Sons" says Jimmah looked good:
Our reporter K-man's opinion was that Jimmy Clausen looked the most comfortable under center, and that Demetrius and Frazer looked decidedly uncomfortable. Take one man's opinion on 'comfort level' with a grain of salt, but it's pretty telling that he felt the other two big QB recruits didn't even look comfortable let alone efficient or good.
The blog arm of UNHD says not so fast:
Quarterbacks weren't overly impressive. Jones fumbled (which his team recovered) and had a pick returned for a touchdown, Frazer threw a pick, Sharpley fumbled (which he also didn't lose), and Clausen missed some receivers.
Sharpley had the best command of the offense and moved the chains the best of the four.
When Jimmah was given the opportunity to win the dang game, results weren't good:
And with two minutes left in the game, with the Blue trailing 10-6, Clausen took the field with a chance to wow the sun-drenched crowd. Instead the sequence went: Travis Thomas four-yard run, incomplete pass to John Carlson in traffic, an intentional throwaway under pressure that looked like it was intended for Parseghian, an offensive pass-interference penalty and an incomplete pass to Robby Parris on fourth-and-21.
No quarterback did well. Clausen was 3 of 7 for 23 yards. Jones was 3-6 and threw a pick six. Sharpley was 5 of 7 for 31 yards but was sacked for negative 39. Zach Frazer threw four passes; the only one that was caught was intercepted. Between both teams Notre Dame chose to run the ball 54 times to just 24 passes.
But never fear! Some commenters pointed out this Wayne Drehs article from ESPN.com:
Freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen's play was, well, unremarkable. Which is just the way Charlie Weis wanted it.
Coming from Wayne Drehs in November: "Charlie Weis, the iconoclast genius, has discovered a way for Notre Dame to cease extending its bowl losing streak: fail to qualify for one. Yes, it's all going to plan for the only man to set foot on the moon... with his mind!"
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: The quarterback competition will go into the fall. Given how the offensive line got overrun in pass protection against a defensive line that has very little talent (according to recruiting gurus, at least), the run-pass ratio Weis broke out in the spring game might not be far off from the one deployed during the year.
I talked with Vijay about this a bit: it's amazing how crap Ohio State's quarterback recruiting has been over the past few years.
- 2007: no recruits.
- 2006: Antonio Henton, a three star who was Rivals #9 "dual-threat QB" and only the 25th best recruit in Georgia. Committed to OSU over Illinois, Maryland, and Louisville.
- 2005: Rob Schoenhoft. Four-star who was Rivals' #6 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Michigan.
- 2003: Todd Boeckman, a three-star and Rivals #19 pro-style QB. Committed to OSU over Pitt and Maryland.
That doesn't look too bad -- a little thin, but not awful -- until you consider the strange case of Schoenhoft. He's 6'5" and apparently a camp superstar. He had an impressive ranking from Rivals and some nice offers, but some seriously strange high school statistics. As a junior he completed 37% of his passes. As a senior he was better but only slightly, completing 45%. What's the deal? EDSBS picked up a report from a Buckeye that pieces the puzzle together:
Who will replace Troy Smith? ... Not Rob Schoenhoft. God, he sucks. Think "Sexy Rexy," but without the talent. Fuck it. He's throwing downfield, and by God, it will leave his hand at mach 8.
Michigan and OSU offered him on the basis of a big arm and prototype size; Schoenhoft has little else. Henton is black and short and is thus universally compared to Troy Smith. Does anyone remember how bad Troy Smith was early in his career? Yeah...
Henton did have a very Smith-esque game, going 8/16 for 40 yards, 3 picks, and 2 fumbles.
Zounds! Buckeye Commentary has some impressions of his own. Sounds similar to the Michigan spring along the lines: starters are being held out and the projected first string defensive line is dominating the backups. From the sounds of it Boeckman is solid but uninspiring, a Krenzel type.
Reading way too much into assessments of meaningless spring games that themselves read way too much into meaningless spring games: Boeckman starter. If he sucks or is injured OSU is in deep trouble. No conclusions can be drawn about the defense given the QB situation and the absence of non-Maurice Wells tailbacks, but most of those guys return so it should be about the same. Expect Ohio State to revert to Tresselball this year. Chris Wells is going to get run ragged, the special teams and defense will be good to infuriating, etc, etc.