I'm still a bit under the weather so this will be, as much as anything, an open thread for you to post your own thoughts on today's Spring Game. I watched with the interest of a hungry fan eager to see some live football, while understanding that this was an exhibition for hungry fans eager to see some live football. The signal to noise ratio in a scrimmage like this is pretty low.
That said, we saw live football, featuring the players who will play for the team this fall. And while I don't have the energy to write too thoughtfully about any big picture stuff right now, here are a few of my observations from today's action, in no particular order:
* I like that we seem interested in getting the football to our playmakers. That's an awfully simple concept, but one that's been fundamentally underserved. We have specific ideas for how to use DJ Monroe. We want to get Mike Davis and other playmaking wideouts the ball in space. It's all pretty raw right now, but seeing the coaches specifically targeting that objective is a nice change.
* Also nice: routes being run down the field! Nevermind that neither Gilbert nor McCoy could get the ball there. The routes were being run. Down the field. Consistently. This is progress.
* The easy conclusion to draw is that our offensive line is a "work in progress," a "question mark." Yes, it is, and it will be. But some of the individual play that I saw was encouraging. Mason Walters had a nice afternoon. I saw some nice agility from Trey Hopkins, and several encouraging plays from Tray Allen.
* How good is Quandre Diggs? Didn't look like an early enrollee freshman to me. Beautiful coverage on the fade in the end zone, coupled with some physical play and a fine display of football instincts. Diggs looks like one of the top two players in the class. Like when Earl Thomas showed he was ready, the question is not whether he's ready to play but how long it will take him to understand the game as well as he plays it.
* Sticking with the defense, we have the personnel to have a really strong front seven, and it's conceivable that the secondary will round into a strength sooner rather than later. Vaccaro is a difference maker who needs to be on the field constantly. We all know Gideon's limitations, but if he's asked to play a role better suited to his capabilities this year he can be fine, and he looked good on one play today coming in to blow up a lane, shedding a blocker to make the play. Phillips and Byndom are inexperienced and raw, but they possess physical attributes that play. I've already mentioned Diggs, but we also saw something from AJ White and Nolan Brewster today. There are a lot of kids who will be in the mix here and I feel better about our prospects in the secondary than I did heading in, which is nice.
* Rounding out the thoughts on the defense: I'm pretty encouraged by our roster and feel good about our chances to be a good unit. We didn't see Manny Diaz do much schematically today, but I saw plenty of talent out there. Reggie Wilson is going to explode onto the scene this year, and between him and Jeffcoat and Okafor we've got some playmakers at end. As for tackle, Calvin Howell made a couple nice plays, and I saw some things to like from Dorsey in a block-eating role alongside Randall. And the linebackers are a wealth of depth and talent. Cobbs is still really raw and learning how to play, but he definitely closes fast.
* All that said, if you told me after today that you see an eight-win team I wouldn't argue, and that's because the offense still lacks an identity. I really liked seeing how Harsin attacks the field through various points of emphasis, but we're a long way from executing it well enough to take advantage. The elephant in the room being, of course, quarterback. Gilbert did not look good, and if we're ever starting Case McCoy we're in trouble. I know that he's going to be appealing to some, but there's nothing there. I don't have an answer here, and only can say that we have a quarterback problem. I thought that Wood looked promising physically, and my gut says that he and Ash should probably be given more of a shot to win the job than they will.
And with that, I'm wrapping it up and opening the floor to y'all. There were plenty of players I didn't get to touch on that deserve mention, but I'll leave that to you.
What did you see today? What made you tingle with optimism? What left you numb with rebuilding acceptance?