I had the good fortune to grab a front row seat at the pathetic quaint Traz Powell Stadium on Saturday to watch the Hurricanes go at it during the annual Spring Game. And while I stayed through the bitter end and made sure my photographer got all the moneyshots, I couldn't do a proper "post-game" round up like Manny and Shandel (OFFENSE!!! SCORING!!! BAD DEFENSE!!!), so you get to re-live the hype now.
So what do I make of what I saw?
NOTE, YOU CAN CLICK EVERY PICTURE IN THIS POST FOR A FULLSCREEN VIEW, BECAUSE DAN, MY PHOTOGRAPHER, IS A BADASS).
Well, there's good and bad.
(1) The wideouts looked very good, going after balls instead of waiting on them, making sharp cuts, and outrunning the defense (which will be part of The Bad). Plus they put up ridiculous numbers (check out Manny for the stats). So what do great catches look like?
Aldarius taking it from #38 Cory Nelms.
(2) The defensive line was getting pressure both in the passing game (pressuring the QB's out of the pocket, forcing throws on the run) and wreaking havoc on the RB's.
Allen Bailey giving it to A.J. Highsmith.
Highsmith being hit on release.
Olivier Vernon (yeah, number changes) chasing down Spencer Whipple.
Even Colin McCarthy got in on the action and picked off a pass
Look at those hands!
(1) The secondary was getting eaten alive (at times) by a trio of back-ups that didn't impress me as much as they did a lot of other people. But, and this is probably more indicative of why the DB's were having so many problems, you have to consider who was not suited up: Brandon Harris, Ramon Buchanon, Ryan Hill, and JoJo Nicolas. That's a lot of talent in the secondary that didn't play. Personally, I think the big numbers were because the main DB's playing were: Vaughn Telemaque (who held his own), Brandon McGee, DVD (who did get burned a few times), Ray Ray, Cory Nelms, Jared Campbell, and Jamal Reid. So that's a total of 7 DB's who had to play every single snap of the entire spring game. (I may have missed a walk-on or so, but still, these guys had to play every play of the game, see how you feel).
(2) The quarterback play. Yeah, there were big passing numbers and big plays. But what I saw was this:
That's a fumble. By Spencer Whipple. On the first play of the game.
Bailey chasing down Highsmith (which resulted in the big hit above).
Morris and Highsmith rarely stayed in the pocket if they had the choice (and this was even if they weren't being chased out of the pocket). I can probably count on one hand the amount of times that Stephen Morris hung in the pocket and looked past the first receiver. Most of the time he saw if the first receiver was covered and then took off scrambling and threw on the run or tried to take it himself. He didn't make too many reads, and had a tendency to stare. But then again, he did just graduate high school 3 months ago, so I'll cut him a break.
Back to the problems with throwing on the run: on the 11th offensive series, Stephen Morris was scrambling, tried to throw on the run, threw a tipped pass that was ultimately picked by Ray Ray; then in the next offensive series, Highsmith was rolling to his left and proceeded to throw the pick to McCarthy (above).
My boy Spencer didn't do too hot overall, though he did have a big pass or two. Personally, I think it may be a mechanics thing:
Possibly why he fumbled on the first play, though this shot is from later in the game.
(3) The running backs were less than exciting (and again, it very may have been the O-Line problems). Damien Berry didn't do too much (but he didn't get a ton of carries either), though he did front a poster-worthy stiff-arm:
Kylan Robinson getting ready to take it in the face.
If not for a 51 yard run by Mike James, a 20 yard break by Lamar Miller before he went down, and one big run by Berry, the running backs didn't really produce (but also, Lee Chambers was out injured too). Maybe 2 or 3 yard runs average per back if you subtract the big runs.
Storm also didn't live up to his name, though towards the end he did have a good run where he put on some moves.
Storm, stopping from a full sprint. (Look at how good those pictures are, you can see the fake turf pebbles flying up.
Maybe I'm just pessimistic, but I saw some to be excited about, but more to be worried about. And I didn't even get into the offensive line. I don't agree with Manny that the O-Line looked better (take into account Joel Figueroa didn't play either). Furthermore, for many of the series, Stephen Morris did play behind an all freshman offensive line (Shane McDermott, Cory White, Jared Wheeler, Stephen Plein, Malcolm Bunche) (recognize a single name on the list?).
That's really my breakdown. I'm going to end with a few choice pictures, but rest assured, tomorrow I'm going to give you a post of nothing but visual goodness with about another 60-70 pictures with my outstanding captions.
God, Allen Bailey is HUGE.
Randy, you're looking both worried and grey. Or constipated.
Injured Matt Bosher, hard at work on the sidelines.
Let me know what you thought about the game, but I don't want to hear how much better these pictures are than the ones I took at the Under Armour Combine. Make sure to come back tomorrow to see the rest of the pure, unadulterated pictures. They'll include more action shots, warm-ups, JACORY THROWING PASSES, NFL Canes on the sideline, crazy-ass fans, and cheerleaders(!).