Now, I normally take any observations from a spring game with more than a grain of salt. After all, I remember one time when Corey Jenkins and Taqiy Muhammad hooked up for one, two, three, four, FIVE, count 'em FIVE touchdown passes. We came out thinking, "yeah, eat it Montana-to-Rice."
But, not to say that you can't take anything away from a spring game, so, here are some of my observations from our Garnet & Black Game:
Line 'em up
Now, in my opinion, this is the hardest position to gauge in a spring game, since the OL is never all of the first-teamers together.
However, the run blocking was much improved (not that it could've gotten much worse), and there seemed to be a bit of continuity in that they came on/off the field together, sat together, got yelled at by Coach Wolford together ... definitely much more of a "unit." That will be big come fall.
Techniques, while needing some refining, of course, looked improved, and, I do like the wider line splits. You can tell a big difference in Wolford's coaching. Hopefully they keep working hard through the summer ... on their own, of course.
Garcia is QB1, but, you knew that.
He was able to show off his arm a bit on some deep balls. He showed a bit of poise and patience. A particularly good play was after he switched to the Black Team, he was able to wait on Moe Brown to put on a spiffy double move before launching a perfect corner-route ball for a touchdown.
It seems that he was more comfortable making the throws, which seems to me that he has a better understanding of the offense, which, HEY, might be because he's seemingly developed a better work ethic IRT film study and such.
Possibly the most encouraging thing is that even when he got in trouble, he scrambled, but KEPT HIS EYES DOWNFIELD, so that he was looking for a receiver as he motored, saving the "takeoff" for only a last-ditch effort.
Onto QB2, Mr. McCollum. He showed some good poise and made some good throws. He also showed some escapability when it was needed. He wouldn't beat Garcia in the "wheels" department, but, he didn't look like Jared Lorenzen, either.
Plus, you can see that he does have a decent grasp of the offense, which, Spurrier himself has acknowledged in the past, saying "he can make all the throws."
If something were to happen to Garcia -- injury, grades, Columbia P.D. -- I think we could manage with Reid under center.
QB3 - Zac by God Brindise. He showed some good things. He's not going to challenge for the starting role anytime soon, but, if we have a total implosion, the pucker factor upon his entry has been reduced from a full "10" to about an "8" or so.
QB4 -- Aramis Hillary. Looked really really tentative, which, is sorta bad, given the fact that the defenses were vanilla during the game. I think it was a foregone conclusion that he would redshirt, but, if you needed any physical proof, you got it Saturday.
I'm not going down the road of some of the hardcore message-boarders in that "he'll never see the field," but, he needs some work, and, as Stuart Smalley would say ... that's ... OK. Perhaps I want him to succeed down the road because it was his stated dream to play for Carolina. There aren't too many of those around (which, saddens me, but, what can ya do?).
Then there's ... um ... let's call him "QB X" -- Stephon Gilmore.
He'll of course be in the mix at CB (more on that later), but he got a few snaps at QB, running a little read-option game with Jarvis Giles, which was a good shakeup/addition to the Spurrier playbook. If nothing else, I'm in favor of it as a "pace-changer," and a way to confuse opposing defenses, since they will both wear #5. If Garcia had only kept the long hair.
Joe Hills turned out the best numbers in the game, and made some good catches. Let's hope that it translates in the fall.
Also, in the "hope it translates" department, Moe Brown's touchdown catch was a good one, especially in that he did do a spiffy double move. Moe is a good kid, by all indications, but, has been frustrating to watch on Saturdays. I hope he goes all out and puts together a memorable senior campaign. He deserves it.
I was hoping to see more of Tori (don't call him Childers) Gurley, given all of talk and chatter revolving around him coming out of spring practice, but, he wasn't very much of a factor. Perhaps he will be able to showcase more of his skill once the lights come on in the fall.
Also, I hope Dion LeCorn has a speedy recovery. I hate that the kid busted his ankle on what wound up being the last play of the game.
This is the play in question ... Giles is scorin' and LeCorn's leg is breakin'. (photo credit: me!)
Weslye Saunders had a terrific touchdown reception late. Even better than his catch was his TD celebration, best described as a "rump shaker." Seriously.
Jarvis Giles obviously had a coming out party. Again, I don't want to get overly excited here, but, the kid showed me something. He has speed to burn, and a bit of elusiveness.
He obviously will need to do some work in the weight room during the summer, but, don't be shocked if he gets some touches early on come fall.
He also needs to learn better pass protection technique, but, that will come with time and coaching. All indications are that he has personality to burn as well .... very personable and coachable. I noticed that even in the midst of his big game, he was still getting plenty of coachin' up from Coach Graham.
Did I mention he's faaaaaaaaast?
Brian Maddox had some solid runs. If he can just positive yards on a given carry, move the pile and keep a defense honest, I think he'll be successful.
The defense was more or less vanilla most of the game, so it was hard to tell.
However, two names to remember -- Stephon Gilmore and Devonte Holloman.
I know I know, those aren't exactly "diamonds in the rough," given their skill levels and success in high school, but, they looked like they were well ahead of the curve.
Holloman had great footwork and technique, and will be in the mix in the safety position, even upon Culliver's return. And it's hard not to love a DB wearing #21 for the Cocks (what can I say, it's been hard for me to say goodbye to E. Cook).
Gilmore will be fun to watch at CB during the next few seasons. He has good technique, and COULD be en route to being a "lockdown" corner upon gaining some experience. He also nearly had an INT when he made a nasty jump on a McCollum throw. It hit him too perfectly and he dropped it.
Not to say he won't get burned early on, and the Tinfoil Hatters won't be calling for him to be benched, but, I'm telling you, based on what I saw out of him in high school (I live in Charlotte, so South Pointe was within shouting distance) and on Saturday, the kid is going to be a good one in the defensive backfield.
Lanning was fine on punting, but, um, the kicking game? We might need to go the Mike Leach route, for real.
In closing ...
I liked what I saw. Aside from the pitiful-ness of the kicking game, I didn't see anything that makes me cringe. Sure, depth is a concern at some positions, but, it looks like at least amongst the first-teamers, we are solidly progressing. Not quite world-beaters, but, not flapping in the wind, either. I'll be interested in seeing some of these kids once we're going full speed against guys wearing different helmets, but, again, a lot of them are on the right path.
That's about all I can think of right now. What did everyone else think?