Here’s some thoughts from watching the Blue-Gold game.
- Jimmy Clausen’s arm looks a lot stronger. He was throwing some bullets out there today. He only completed 10 of 27 passes but that was in part because of a large number of drops.
- The wide receivers didn’t look too good. Duval Kamara and David Grimes each had multiple drops and the blocking amongst the receivers in the run game was not that strong. Considering the problems with drops last year, seeing the #1 and 2 receivers drop balls that hit them square in the hands is not very encouraging.
- Golden Tate looked great on the go route in the final minute, but we knew he could run go routes last year. We still didn’t see him get the ball in space where he can use his speed to make any big plays. Tate is still probably the only receiver who can create much separation so he’ll need a great fall camp if this offense will have much of a downfield threat.
- Armando Allen was looking pretty good running the ball. He ran with more confidence and was able to run through a couple arm tackles – the same type of arm tackles that he’d go down too easily on last year. Allen didn’t get the ball in the passing game, but in his 11 carries, he totaled 50 yards.
- James Aldridge didn’t get the ball much at all – just six times total – but he did look pretty good in limited action. Not really sure why Aldridge only got the six carries compared to Allen’s 11 and Robert Hughes’ 22.
- Hughes looked great again. He showed great vision and footwork in turning
- It was tough to tell how the offensive line is doing since they weren’t allowed to cut block. Then again, based on how the OL executed cut blocks last year (see Michigan game), maybe they permanently shouldn’t be able to cut block. Still, the defense was getting a lot of pressure on Clausen throughout the day – was that the offensive line letting the defensive line through or was the increased pressure a result of Jon Tenuta’s influence.
- Weis said two of the sacks given up were on plays where the offensive linemen yelled “cut” which was supposed to get the defender to stop in their place. Instead, the defenders ignored the calls and kept going after Clausen.
- A holding call negated a Clausen to Grimes touchdown – gee, where have I seen that happen before?
- Trevor Robinson is already as big as the other ND offensive linemen – he is going to be a beast.
- Mike Ragone had one nice catch and was lining up in more of an h-back position at times. He was also wearing knee braces on both knees just as the ND Oline does.
- Barry Gallup didn’t look too bad running the ball considering he spent all last season at receiver. He won’t challenge Hughes, Allen, or Aldridge, but he could be a competent back who takes carreis in the event we are ever far enough ahead to pull the starters. He’s also quick enough to the edge that I’m sure there’s a few plays Weis could draw up for him. If we see much of Gallup at RB this year though, we’re either a lot better or a lot worse than we thought.
- The fullback was not featured much at all yesterday – that wouldn’t be a bad thing if that carried over into the season.
- Harrison Smith was lining up all over the field. When the second team defense was on the field, he was playing strong safety. When the first team defense was out, he was playing as a safety getting dropped down to the line in certain packages. He made a great play in picking off Clausen on a quick pass to Ragone.
- Brian Smith looked GREAT and recorded two sacks. He was getting looks at ILB and if the staff can find another OLB, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Smith playing inside more permanently.
- Kyle McCarthy played well enough to secure the starting strong safety spot heading into fall camp.
- Morrice Richardson was getting good pressure on Clausen most of the game and looked good playing along the line. Richardson led all defenders with 7 tackles.
- There weren’t a whole lot of negative running plays caused by the defense and it looks like we could be susceptible to the run up the middle again this year.
- Toryan Smith was playing with the second team and it looks like he still hasn’t really put it together.
- Darrin Walls ankles might be a little sore today after Armando Allen make him fall over with a nice cut on the run to the outside in the first half.
- Emeka Nwankwo played A LOT and looked very solid. I was impressed with his size in all of the practice videos and he looked the part standing next to ian Williams.
- Terrail Lambert had the hit of the day with a punishing knock on Armando Allen at the goal line.
Gotta head off the airport and catch my flight home. I’ll have more updates tonight.