Well, I survived a blown radiator and a massive hangover to make it to the open scrimmage on Saturday morning. [ED: That sounds like either a potentially very interesting story, or a potentially terribly uninteresting one.]
I'll start off by saying that, in my opinion, it is hard to gauge a team based on a fall scrimmage. If the offense scores every time, then the defense is bad, and if the defense gets five picks (like they did today), then the offense is bad. So you kinda have to take everything with a grain of salt.
The day started off with individual drills and I mostly watched the QBs during this time. As expected, Bo Wallace has much more zip on the ball than Barry Brunetti. Almost all of Wallace's passes were put right on the numbers. After a few minutes of individual drills started, the scrimmage began.
Jeff Scott had on pants and jersey (no pads), while Aaron Morris, Collins Moore and Charles Sawyer were in shorts and jersey. None participated.
The scrimmage started off with kick offs and punts, and the punt blocking was terrible. I counted two tipped punts and at least three other attempts that would have been blocked if the defense had been going all out. Players I noticed taking punts were Philander Moore, I'Tavius Mathers and someone else who had his jersey rolled up so I couldn't tell what number he was.
Barry Brunetti and the 2nd team offense began the scrimmage against the first team offense going up against the 1st team defense. He threw one pass and then the 2nd team was replaced with the 1st team.
Bo Wallace came in and the offense immediately took off. From what I noticed, Bo ran with the first team offense a lot more than Brunetti did. I personally think the offense moved much better today with Wallace on the field.
Edit: Forgot to mention this in my orginal post but our offense ran a lot of read option stuff. A little more than I was expecting.
QB - Wallace looked very good to start the practice. One play I vividly remember was a pass through double coverage to Philander Moore. The ball was placed exactly where only Moore could catch the ball. Does an elite DB tip or intercept that pass? Maybe, but it was a hell of a pass and catch. The only TD pass I saw from Bo was a 20-ish yard bubble pass to Randall Mackey (who looks insane with the ball in his hands, more on him later). Bo had a couple of overthrown passes but for the most part put the ball on the money and kept the offense "on schedule".
Then the last two possessions of the scrimmage happened. Once it was 1st team against 1st team, Bo looked very confused. He threw a pretty bad pass that was picked off by Cody Prewitt. Then the last play of the scrimmage was picked off by Gilbert Pena. Yes, you read that right. Brunetti looked a little timid throwing the ball. Brunetti threw three INTs today, one each to Dehendret Collins, Aaron Garbutt, and Senquez Golson. The only one of those plays that the defender really made a good play to intercept the ball was the Dehendret Collins pick. He just wanted the ball more than the receiver. Garbutt and Golson INTs were just poor decisions on Brunetti's part.
RB - As I said earlier, there was no Jeff Scott today and I'tavius Mathers took the majority of the snaps with the first team. Nick Parker and Devin Thomas took a few first team snaps but those were mainly in power formations. Mathers is going to be an elite RB, in my untrained opinion. He was just making people miss left and right and has extremely deceptive speed and agility. He ripped off a 55 yard TD run where a few LBs and DBs ended up on their backside from the moves he put on them. I expect him to get a lot of carries this year. Jaylen Walton is a speed demon. Several times today he easily got out to the outside and let his legs do the rest. He still needs some work on his vision but he is also going to be a good change of speed back for us.
WR/TE - The WRs didn't really stand out to me today. I noticed a lot of drops, and I also noticed them getting beat several times in jump ball situations. Moncrief probably made the best catch that I saw. He snagged the ball out of the air as he was falling down out of bounds. I am sure I may have missed some stuff but I didn't have the best vantage point. The inconsistency could also have to do with the corners. The corners were all over the receivers this afternoon. Cody Core looks like he will be good in time. Had a few dropped passes but he did go up and get a ball over one of the corners (don't remember who). Didn't notice much from the TEs except one catch by Mosley. Didn't seem to be too involved with the offense today.
OL - The starting five were Emmanuel McCray, Justin Bell (in for Aaron Morris), Evan Swindall, AJ Hawkins, and Pierce Burton. Patrick Junen also played a few snaps with the first team. I also saw one holding and one false start penalty (ironically by Robert Conyers who now wears Bradley Sowell's infamous #78 jersey). The line was very inconsistent. Some plays they would block pretty well but other plays they would get blown up at the line.
Randalll Mackey - I didn't really know where to put Mackey so I am going to give him his own section, partially because he deserves it. Today, Mackey played WR, RB, and wildcat QB (though he never threw a pass). He is extremely electric with the ball in his hands. He had a receiving and a rushing TD in today's scrimmage. I expect him to get 10-15 touches a game.
On day one, Coach Freeze said the defenses job was to "relentlessly pursue the ball and knock the every living crap out of the opponent." They did not disappoint today. By my estimation, I would say the D blitzed 75 to 80 percent of the offensive plays.
DB - Wesley Pendleton and Senquez Golson were your starting two CBs with Dehendret Collins playing Husky, but let's be honest, he is a CB. I believe Cheif Brown and I think Cody Prewitt were the two starting safeties with the 1st team defense (someone please correct me if I am wrong). The are ballhawks and take the "no fly zone" mantra pretty seriously. The constantly had the receivers blanketed and were extremely aggressive. Collins, Golson, Prewitt all had INTs. Freshmen Quintavious Burdette and Trae Elston are still pretty raw but both looked really good with the 2nd team. I believe Elston has what it takes to be an All-SEC safety.
LB - Mike Marry and Aaron Garbutt were the starting LBs. Garbutt had a INT and a sack in this game, but nothing really stuck out to me. They both did their job really well and made several stops at thel line and at the backfield. They were two very solid LBs who were just out there doing their jobs.
DL - The starters for the first team were Byron Bennett, Gilbert Pena/Issac Gross, and CJ Johnson. They were in the backfield most of the scrimmage. Cameron Whigham and Johnson both had sacks that I saw. There were several other sacks but they were happening so fast. I really, really like Pena and Gross. They both were extremely disruptive. However, this line really needs Channing Ward. Gilbert Pena recorded an interception to end the scrimmage and the defense went absolutely crazy. The entire defense ran out there and celebrated with him. I have noticed much, much greater energy and passion from this defensive bunch.
I didn't keep up with any stats really but if y'all would like, I can try to find some stats and give credit to the person/website who tracked stats.
My final thought is this team has a lot more energy and passion than I have seen over the past two years. The biggest thing about this team is they are just that, a team. You can tell they have each other's back and are playing together and trusting each other.