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Spring Game Recap: QBs, WRs, RBs, and the Front 7

The spring game is now a week past us and after analyzing the video for a week we can see how positions fair going into the summer and eventually fall camp. The front seven, defensive backs, and offensive line are really under the microscope.

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

My apologies on getting this out on a bit of a delay.  Lot of sports last weekend and just got to take the time necessary to write a post after watching the game a couple times.

Excellent Shape

  • Thomas Tyner is continuing his rushing style of making one cut and going. It was like night and day when Tyner switched from trying to make a home run hit every time he touched the ball and with how he finished last season.
  • Royce Freeman is faster than last year. How that happens I don't know. He's a fast 230-pounder. With him and Tyner in the backfield it's absolutely terrifying. I couldn't be more impressed by his speed, power, and catching ability that has clearly improved upon the last season. He's going to be so much fun to watch this season.
  • Benoit looks noticeably leaner than he was last year. He was great in bursts when the Ducks were up 20 with a few minutes left. We last saw him breaking through the Florida State defense in the Rose Bowl for a huge gain. His leaner physique will let him get more touches and have more endurance during his sprints. If he has to get some carries during games due to injuries or workload he'll do just fine.
  • Tony Brooks-James can fill a very specific role this year. He can handle what Charles Nelson did on the offense last year. Pair him with Freeman and Tyner and he can be the running back taking a pitch or motioning out onto the flats and messing up the defense's reads.
  • Player of the day by far is Charles Nelson. He played receiver and scored two touchdowns with some real, scary speed. (I want to remind everyone that last year I said he'd have a better career than De'Anthony Thomas. HOT TAKES!) Nelson played defensive back and got an interception. He's such a physical player and really a "football player" that can play on both sides of the ball. It's going to be tough to figure out where to put him. It's not a situation where Myles Jack played both sides of the ball out of necessity. The coaching staff is going to have to figure out, which side he's going to play, if he's even restricted to one side. Personally, I would love to see him play defense and no offense. The skill positions on offense are so stacked that Nelson's impact will be much greater on defense.

Good Shape

  • There’s a big difference between Lockie and the rest of the field. He passes better than most, makes smart choices, and is much more athletic than I think he gets credit for. Whoever wins between Lockie and Adams after fall practices you know is ready to go. Vernon Adams killed it at Eastern Washington and while we haven’t seen a lot of Lockie he’s clearly a talent. (Has essentially entered the finals for the QB competition against Vernon Adams.)
  • Bralon Addison. You, you’re great. Keep it up. A few passes. A stiff-arm for a long touchdown run. He looks like he simply took a year off because he got bored or had to do some soul searching or something, not because of an ACL tear. It’s players like this where you realize how far science has come. An ACL tear used to be a death sentence for athleticism and at best was really a two-year injury. Bralon is back and looks just as good.  (Only good because still a lot of question marks post-injury)
  • Darren Carrington looked great. He seems like a real pure receiver. He can go up and grab some passes, can make moves in open spaces. He’s going to be big this year opposite of Bralon Addison. (He killed it the last few games but wasn't a factor most of last season.)

Work in Progress

  • The center position is a work in progress. Neither one nailed his snaps with consistency. Is there a lot of time to figure it out? Yeah, but that's not an ideal scenario for a team that is competing for a national championship. Maybe we've been spoiled with Hroniss Grasu, but this year especially our line has to kill it to make it easier on the new quarterback and open up holes for our running back.
  • Baylis caught fire at the end of last season but his hands really let him down in this scenario. Obviously the spring game is really a glorified practice so I’m not putting too much into it, but it would have been awesome had he come down with a few passes that hit his hands.
  • Seisay filled in opposite of Troy Hill when Ifo went down last season. He’s a big corner who performed very well against some top competition. Seisay may be thin but he’s physical on the edge tackling. I’m interested to see how well he works well against shiftier receivers. He’s long so should be able to keep up with vertical routes and maybe some pressure coverage. So it’ll be the smaller routes with a lot of cuts that may give him some problems.
  • It was really tough to track who was making plays on the defensive side of the ball given the numbers. But the defensive line seemed to be getting a better push into the backfield, even when playing a 2-gap assignment, and then shaking the blockers one way or the other.
  • The linebackers did a much better job at taking good pursuit angles and being in the right spots. You didn’t see linebackers trying to make arm tackles or diving to make tackles because they were playing disciplined defense and taking the proper angles. That’s something that killed us against Arizona in the regular season. The entire front seven for both teams was really flying around and swarming to the football.
  • The offensive lines did well in zone-blocking. They rarely got blown up behind the line, were able to step well and get an angle on the defender, and were able to open a lot of holes for at least a couple yards.