By: David Franklin
As anxious as we all were to see the start of spring practice and get a glimpse of things to come, it seems like in a blink of an eye it’s coming to an end, for now. With the Spring Game set to take place Saturday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando Manny Diaz and the boys will wrap up on the spring football season and begin to step back and evaluate what they seen and also start to heal up from several injuries. With another day today of helmets and shorts and no pads there’s not a whole lot to get into there but a few things to maybe look forward to on Saturday and a few things we’ve learned up to this point.
It seems the QB race is always on the top of the discussion list and although a starter wont be named until later I personally don’t think it could’ve gone any better. No injuries and the transfers and newcomers have achieved one of the main reasons they were brought in which was to create competition and raise the standard. I think we have a pretty good idea that Perry and Williams are headed in the right direction but Martell has been inconsistent at best showing flashes of athleticism but struggling in the pocket.
The run game has been solid and a bright spot so far. With Lorenzo Lingard continuing to recover from an injury from last season DeeJay Dallas and Cam’Ron Harris have more than impressed so expect more of the same on Saturday. FB Realus George has also made major improvements and is looking to see more action.
The WR group has been and interesting group to watch. While some have struggled, others have stepped up and a few have suffered injuries. Most of the struggles have included dropped passes and mental mistakes. Freshman Jeremiah Payton and transfer KJ Osborn have been positive surprises as Osborn has shown leadership on and off the field. Jeff Thomas and Mike Harley look to be poised for breakout seasons while Mark Pope, and Dee Wiggins look to be solid contributors. Brian Hightower along with Thomas recently had minor knee surgeries and will need time to heal from those.
The OL is still the OL. While there has been some improvement there is a lot left to do here. I will say that the toughness seems to have improved as this group seems to be playing with a little more pride and and a chip on their shoulder as they’ve been seen firing back at the DL in a few after play incidents and that is a very good sign. Expected starter at Center Corey Gaynor has been sidelined with a leg injury and I wouldn’t expect to see him Saturday. The rest of this group continues to move around as OL Coach Butch Barry continues to look for the right fit and that will continue in the Spring Game. Coach Barry has said that he’ll look at who shows up and performs after spring practice to off season workouts before deciding who will be on the field.
On defense there will be lots of talented but inexperienced players but so far they have looked good as a whole. Up front Nesta Silvera, Jon Ford, Jordan Miller, Greg Rousseau, and Jahfari Harvey seem to be settling in nicely while Jon Garvin is poised for a big time season. I expect this group to show up Saturday and go all out. The starting LBs are very good but the back ups have struggled and injuries to Zach McCloud and Waynmon Steed have hindered their performance. DE Patrick Joyner has started working at OLB and will probably see action there. The secondary looks good in practice and hopefully that’ll carry over to game day. CB Trajan Bandy is the leader here while DJ Ivey, Al Blades, and Gurvan Hall look promising and Amari Carter trues to fight off the injury bug.
Not a lot on Special Teams as incoming Punter Louis Hedley hasn’t arrived yet. Kicker Bubba Baxa has hit several field goals in the past two scrimmages and several players have taken turns on PR and KR.
Saturday’s scrimmage takes place at Camping World Stadium in Orlando at noon. I’m expecting a typical Spring Game performance with most of the excitement coming from the fans still longing to see some offensive firepower. I would imagine OC Dan Enos will mix in a few plays that will bring some cheers but by no means will it be a full display. The defense had said it plans on showing up strong so that could be interesting. Either way in a few days it’ll be time to start looking towards fall ball and as quick as the spring game and went we’ll be right back in Orlando on 8/24 to face UF. Enjoy the display Saturday and Go Canes!!