Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday Practice Report

Another practice and another fantastic practice report from Bruin Gold's Jeff_is_smiling. It sounds like the offense is starting to make some progress. Here are some of the big things that Jeff noticed in yesterday's practice.

After watching the offense warm up and go through individual drills, the team moved into passing drills between the quarterbacks and receivers:
THE MOST STRIKING thing I watched all practice was in the next session. One of my complaints on QB/receiver timing from previous years was that the QB's tended to throw after the break occurred. Olson more openly, but Cowan as well. Well, not so much anymore. it is OBVIOUS that this was a point of emphasis from Chow. In one series of reps, only 1 QB (Osaar) did not throw the ball prior to the break on longer routes. One time Forcier missed his timing. On each occasion, the ball ended up being thrown poorly and/or out-of-bounds. Typically the ball was thrown at least 1 step before the break. Even Olson. I was really thrilled to see that they are working that hard now. It is an obvious (to me anyways) departure from the performance I watched at practice last year.
It sounds like some of the fruits of Chow's simplified offense, and the team's practice, are starting to pay dividends for this offense. When they started a passing scrimmaging with the defense, the offense had some success moving the ball on a regular basis:
Pass scrimmage started next. I have to admit, I can see alot of promise in this offense. We are clearly not close to where we need to be from a timing standpoint between QB's and receivers, but there are already elements that the QB's seem to fully understand that are immediately paying off. It is clear that our bread-and-butter play, the one that is the rock solid foundation should everything else not a little 3 yard pass. We KILLED our own defense today repeatedly using this little pass. It seems like we are throwing underneath the coverage when blitzes occur, and this little 3 yard pass gets a lot of Yards After Catch out of it. Over and over again, we'd get 6 yards out of it. Sometimes a lot more depending on how aggressively the defense was blitzing. Also, our timing routes in 1-on-1 coverage using a fade throw up the sideline is looking very crisp as well.
In a full scrimmage there was a good mix of running and passing and while the offense still needs a lot of work, it sounds like they are starting to make up some ground on the defense.
The team then went into a normal scrimmage mode. Again, the offense did better than I anticipated. We mixed the run with the pass and ran better than I thought we would. Still not anything close to where we need to be, but it was competitive. I hadn't seen much competition the last few years, but it seemed competitive to me. Of the defenders, Norris and Verner both made quite a few plays. Viney was singled out a few times for good coverage as well. During this time, Coach Rick Neuhiesel made sure that the pace kept up. He yelled at the offense, "Come on guys, get out of the huddle!" to quicken them up.
Very encouraging news. The new fast pace, some progress being made, and new guys stepping up and having good practices. Those are all the things you like to see during the spring. Let's hope that today's scrimmage and the following week continue to show improvement for the whole team. Next Saturday's spring game should be a lot of fun.