April 19, 2008

Second srimmage in the books

On Saturday, the BC Football team got to run through their second scrimmage and last dress rehearsal before the spring game on April 26th. For those who missed the 1st scrimmage breakdown, below are the "rules" to how the scrimmage is run. Some things were different from the 1st scrimmage held last week:

Who Plays: The 1st string offense goes against the 1st string defense, and the 2nd string offense goes against the 2nd string defense.

Time Limits: The game is not timed. Each "string" gets 9 snaps and then switches off with the other "string"

Kickoff and Punts: There were no kickoffs, and the team practiced punts before the scrimmage. Therefore, each series of 9 snaps starts off on a specific spot on the field. Those pre-assigned spots for the offense are- Own 20, Own 35, 50, Opponents 35, and Opponents 20.

Other Quirks: There are downs just like a real game. Since there are no punts, when 4th down comes up the offense "resets". It becomes 1st down again, and the offense restarts at the pre-assigned yard spot for that series of 12 snaps. On a few occasions there were some FG's attempted.

Quarterback Protection: None, they are fair game.

The format of 9 plays for each drive, as opposed to 12 like last time, seemed to handicap the offense a little bit. There were at least two or three occasions when the offense had a nice drive going, only to reach the 9 play limit and have the drive stall out.

QuarterbacksChris Crane led the 1st team offense, and performed the best of all the quarterbacks, finishing 16-of-26 on the day. Crane was very accurate on short passes 10-15 yards downfield. The senior had one hiccup when he threw a ball into double coverage and it was picked off, but all in all it was a nice performance.

Probably the most impressive quality that Crane displayed today was the ability to stand in the pocket and take a lick from the defense. The QB was pressured all day long, but he always seemed willing to stand in and take a shot if it meant completing a pass.

Dominique Davis led the 2nd string offense for almost the entire day, and performed admirably for a backup QB. Davis seems to enter a comfort zone when he rolls out of the pocket, as he twice connected on long pass plays after rolling out. One was a 41-yard pass to Ifeanyi Momah and the other was a 24-yard pass to Billy Flutie. In addition, Davis was part of the offense's only TD of the day, as he connected with Flutie on a 12-yard pass.

Codi Boek played part of the last series of the game. The 3rd string QB had a nice 6-yard run down in the red zone, but on the flip side, also threw a bad INT in the end zone.

Chris Johnson did not play and was not seen down on the field. Right now there's no word why he didn't participate.

Running BacksJosh Haden's speed was "as advertised" up close and in person. Don't worry, that hasn't changed. Saturday's "highlight reel of the day" came when Jim Ramella had Haden trapped for a 5-yard loss, and the RB proceeded to turn it into a higher gear and flew by Ramella for an 8-yard gain. The play was nullified because of an offsides, but it was still a great glimpse of Haden's speed.

In addition, I'm happy to report that a few more positive qualities of Haden's game that came out;

1) Haden showed that he has a good set of hands. Steve Logan called a few screen passes to Haden and he didn't drop a single pass. The RB ended up with 4 receptions for 24 yards.

2) Despite his size, he's pretty good at picking up the blitz. The most impressive play came when Haden picked up a blitzing Brian Toal, and stopped the LB at the spot of contact.

James McCluskey and Dan Mulrooney maintained at the same level of play they performed at last week. They seem to be decent options to give Haden a blow for a play, but don't seem like viable long term solutions if something was ever to happen to Haden.

Receivers - The two standouts were Justin Jarvis and the above mentioned Momah.

Jarvis is looking more and more like he can be a go-to possession receiver on 3rd-and-7 and 3rd-and-8 type scenarios. He's not going to blow the doors off any CB trying to get open deep, but in short range Jarvis seems like he could be valuable.

For a 2nd consecutive scrimmage, Momah caught a 40+ yard pass, this time by out jumping Marty Bowman to haul in the catch. On two other occasions, Momah got thrown a deep ball, but the pass wasn't completed. Freshman Donnie Fletcher broke up one of the plays with tight coverage on Momah.

It was also nice to see Ryan Lindsey get involved in the offense. Lindsey caught three passes on the day, including a great grab when he was crossing over the middle and had to reach to his left across his body to haul in a bad pass. Also, it took a jumping deflection from Marty Bowman to break up a fly pattern pass to Lindsey that would've gone for 60+ yards if it wasn't broken up.

Offensive Line - First, we'll start with the good news. Thomas Claiborne was back, after injuring his ankle last week. The ankle was heavily taped, but it didn't seem to limit Claiborne much.

Claiborne helped the O-line to be much more effective run blocking this time around. I'll stress that the unit is not running like a well oiled machine yet, but it's getting better.

On the opposite side, one of the biggest negatives on the day was a poor job of snapping by the Bryan Murphy. The wobbly snaps took Davis off his timing on several occasions.

Defensive Line - The D-line had another strong performance, with Alex Albright at the head of the class. On one set of series in particular, Albright took over the game. On a 3rd-and-1 Albright stuffed McCluskey for no gain, and on the subsequent 4th down conversion he sacked Crane.

For the 2nd string, Max Holloway didn't stuff the stat sheet as much as last time, but you could find him wreaking havoc in the offensive backfield for much of the day.

Linebackers - The 1st string for today had Brian Toal and Kevin Akins playing outside, with Robert Francois in the middle, while the 2nd string had Mark Herzlich and Darius Bagan outside with Mike McLaughlin inside. Some subs were rotated in on the 2nd string, but the above mentioned group played together the most.

Brian Toal and Kevin Akins played well for the 1st group. Toal got in some nice shots on Crane blitzing from the outside, and played very well in run defense as well. Like Toal, Akins provided good pressure on the pass rush, and in addition, played well when he was asked to provide help in coverage.

The OLB's were strong for the 2nd unit as well. Herzlich was the best of the bunch, as he appeared to be in on a lot of the defensive stops. The LB also made a great play when he batted a pass by Crane in the air that ended up being picked off SS Paul Anderson.

Secondary - The battle for FS continued to heat up between Marty Bowman and Wes Davis, with Davis getting more of a shot to play with the 1st string in this game. Both players performed really well, and each had a few pass breakups. However, Bowman might have had the hit of the day when he absolutely laid out Jarvis on a play. I think Jarvis's body ended up upside down after connecting with Bowman.

I can't say much more about DeLeon Gause than I already have in previous articles, but once again he impressed with really solid pass coverage. It will be exciting to see him showcase his skills against the ACC's best this season.

Special Teams - The kicking game continues to be a concern for BC. Steve Aponavicius missed his only FG attempt of the day from 33 yards out. Billy Bennett didn't do much better, as he nailed one FG from 28 yards, and missed 2 FG's back to back from 37 yards out.
Before the scrimmage, the team was practicing punts. A couple points of note;

1) Billy Flutie was the punter
2) Clarence Megwa and Rich Gunnell were fielding the punts.
3)3rd string QB Codi Boek was lining up with the 1st string punt block team, ala Tim Hasselbeck.

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