January 3, 2007

Scouting the Army East scrimmage

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - It's very hard for the quarterbacks and running backs to get into a rhythm because there are so many of them, something that could be contributing to the average performance of the offense for the East. John Brantley and Tyrod Taylor were the best of the quarterbacks, Brantley showing poise and accuracy despite a fierce pass rush and Taylor flashing his lightning quick feet and his ability to create and throw on the run. Taylor threw the only touchdown pass for the East offense.

Matt Simms had a better start to his day and showed some zip on his passes despite his three-quarters delivery, but he was innacurate after that. Simms did complete a few nice passes to receivers while under pressure but also threw into traffic a few times under little duress. Willy Korn was nearly invisible at the scrimmage and Sean Mara completed three passes for 36 yards, but much of that came on a screen pass.

The speed backs made a big impact during the scrimmage. Chris Rainey scored one of the two touchdowns for the East offense on a 40-yard delayed handoff. He found the hole and hit it immediately and there was no catching him after that. However, Rainey gained -1 yards on his other six carries. Noel Devine took a screen pass from Mara and provided the most exciting play of the scrimmage. Devine took the pass with his back to the defense, started left then quickly cut right and hit fifth gear immediately. His signature spin move didn't make anyone miss but it did allow him to get a couple of extra yards on the 19-yard catch. However, he was also limited on regular handoffs.

Broderick Green has great feet and is a shifty runner in a big back's body. Robert Hughes is pure power up the field and gained a bunch of yards after contact. Once again, Devine was arguably the best blocker but that doesn't mean much as the running backs didn't help the quarterbacks out much in that department.

Deonte Thompson had the best day of the wideouts. He runs the best routes of anyone, driving defenders where he wants them with his speed and taking sharp angles on his cuts. Thompson's touchdown catch was a thing of beauty as he sold Marcus Gilchrist on a post, curled back and caught the ball out in front of his body. As Gilchrist tried to come up and make a play, Thompson shrugged off the tackle and trotted into the end zone from five yards out.

Greg Little has improved his hands greatly. It's clear that he's been working on it during and after the season. Little had quite a few catches including one down the sideline where he split the corner and the safety in zone coverage, waited on the pass and still gained an extra 10 yards or so by breaking tackles. Duval Kamara wasn't utilized in the offense much and Brandon Clear dropped the only pass thrown his way. Arrelious Benn was solid on the day although he did have one bad drop.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez had a very good day bailing out the quarterbacks with his good hands. He caught one pass from Korn that was at his ankles and showed his ability after the catch on a nice bubble screen. Lansford Watson caught one pass on the day but is clearly still limited by his foot injury. He wasn't in on many offensive sets.

The offensive line was not great throughout the scrimmage. Left tackle Anthony Davis returned from his concussion but still looked like he was in a fog getting beaten easily by both Ben Martin and Martez Wilson on different plays. Stefen Wisniewski and Chris Jacobson along with Ryan Pugh allowed too much penetration from the defensive tackles. Chris Little did a better job on the outside than Davis and was more consistent, although he also got beaten for a sack.

As evidenced by the offensive line efforts, the defensive line had a field day. It was a rare play when they didn't have pressure on the quarterback and Martin and Wilson each had big days. Wilson also blocked four field goal/extra point attempts. Torrey Davis had a very strong day on the inside while Marvin Austin was quiet. Justin Trattou was also kept in check as it was the speed of the defensive linemen that gave the offensive line fits. Sidell Corley played but wasn't much of a factor.

The linebackers are still a work in progress. J'Courtney Williams hobbled off the field at one point and was limited. Lorenzo Edwards had a strong scrimmage as he was in on many tackles but Allen Bailey could not have been more invisible. The same can be said for Aaron Nagel. Chris Donald was solid along with Edwards but overall the linebackers aren't making a lot of plays.

The defensive backs looked solid except for the mistake by Gilchrist. Gary Gray almost had a pick and made a nice sideline tackle on Taylor. Major Wright was active although he wasn't in on many tackles. Eric Berry rotated between cornerback and safety and blew up a flanker screen with great anticipation. Eugene Clifford has been a step too late coming over in coverage at times but he closes well.






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