I now see why there is talk of a QB competition (notice I said competition, NOT controversy). Basically from what I see, Gardner is the same QB and Morris has improved some. So it's not that Devin has gotten worse or Shane has gotten SO much better. But if you thought Devin was a 7 of 10 last year and Morris was a 5 of 10. Devin is still a 7 and Morris is now a 6 or 6.5.
This is disheartening to me because it's not like Devin has a TON of experience or it's not like he's maxed out his potential. He's basically Taylor Martinez, the same QB for 3 years in a row...only Martinez was NEVER going to get any better with that arm. Gardner has a real shot to be something special.
Morris has improved like you'd expect any freshman to improve...so the fact that Gardner hasn't seemed to improve at least the same "amount" is a bad sign. Speight looks solid for a kid supposed to be in high school.
Both Green and Smith look better...like Morris both seem to have improved as much as you'd expect a freshman to improve. Nothing drastic, but typical from year 1 to year 2. Green got his speed and burst back, it was noticable in the spring practice videos and it was noticable today. I'd be interested to see if either can pass block.
Hayes looks better, but he's got a little too much Mike Shaw "bounce" in him. He's got a gear that neither Green nor Smith have. Could be a nice change of pace back...could be an obvious screen RB candidate. Hopefully Drake Johnson can get back in the mix because 1. he looked really good before his injury and 2. Douglas doesn't look like a B1G player at this point in his career.
Funchess looks the same, just more comfortable at WR. That said, he still drops WAY too many catchable balls. Those are drive killers. Chesson made a really nice catch. I still think Darboh is going to push him. Canteen is as good as advertised, that slot WR spot is his. Norfleet and Bo Dever seem to be your backups there. It looks like we WILL have a slot WR on the field most all the time. It'll be interesting to see if Darboh pushes Chesson to that spot or if one will start (as the #2) and the other will be first off the bench.
My biggest concern at WR is if we have someone who can stretch the field and "take the top off the defense." Hopefully Chesson is that guy (he burnt J. Clark one time on a corner route). We need separation because we don't have a QB accurate enough to use our size and leaping ability at WR to an advantage. For example, our big guys get a step on the DB and the ball needs to be high and we drill the CB in the back or completely overthrow the target. We can't use the height because we can't pinpoint our passes...it makes the extra inches in height and vertical useless. So we need some separation.
Without Butt the data is incomplete. Heitzman is a load...seeing him running pass routes was weird...and funny. Williams seems the same. Not enough reps to make a comment on the FB and H-back guys.
I now see why Mason Cole is the starter...he has solid hands and GREAT feet. He's not strong enough to start, he got bull rushed 2-3 times REALLY bad, but each time he kept his body between the defender and the QB. I suppose that's half the battle. Where David Dawson was getting blown by, Cole was always in position...he just wasn't big or strong enough to handle Clark a couple of times and got knocked back. The kid has a future though. I wouldn't want to run behind him because he's not clearing anyone out of the way...but again, he stays between his guy and the ball. At this point, that's more than just about anyone else.
Stock down on Kyle Kalis. He's just a body out there. He's got all the tools, but he never locks on to anyone...too often he's just swating at guys or grazing guys when he pulls. Whatever happened to the big physical guy that puts people on their ass? F-ing hit someone man! He just be like Lewan in that he locks onto someone and drives them down the DL and starts wiping other guys out in his wake. Lewan use to collapse his man all the way into the NG over the C. Kalis should be able to make a hole with his size and strength.
Stock also down on Dawson. Not sure where the hype about him playing LT came from. He was blown by HORRIBLY at least twice. He really had trouble with our interior OL when he played LG. Seemed confused at times. Still young, but defintiely not ready to play right now.
Bosch and Miller looked exactly the same. Braden looked okay in spots and then Clark flat out OWNED him in other spots. I'm going to miss Schofield's consistency.
It's going to be another long year on the OL. From what I saw, certain guys looked better...but all it takes is ONE guy to mess up. That's what kept happening to us. We'd get 4 guys doing what they were supposed to do and ONE guy would mess up and the whole play would go wrong. And it was almost never the same guy. Hopefully this is just a cohesiveness issue with the new guys just now starting to play together - but after what we saw last year...I'm not holding my breath.
Certain players looked better, the WRs looks very solid, but the fact that Devin has not progressed even a little bit and the OL doesn't look any better gives me no comfort in this offense. I really expected Gardner to take a step forward this year and I was just hoping the OL could at least be decent. I'll keep hope alive, but I'm skeptical after watching today and hearing comments over the spring. A shotgun quick and medium passing game with gashing runs may be our best bet.
***PLEASE AND FEEL FREE TO ADD YOUR THOUGHTS ON SPRING PRACTICE AND THE SPRING SCRIMMAGE***