Author: TW Hague
© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
Overcast but not too chilly, decent but not a spectacular turnout of fans, maybe 2,000-2,500 (3,000 tops) on both sides in between the 40's. I did more of a play-by-play assessment this time around for the first half, although there were specific guys I was watching for.
First snap one of the big changes, Panfil was at WR. He makes a nice big target and he looked pretty good out there. Here's hoping he can get good enough to be a starter. A high, somewhat behind him pass to Joe Whitest, who stretched himself out nicely to bring it in.
I really like Pender. He had nice speed and acceleration to the target and it looks like he's really hanging on for the tackles. Mike Conway also looks good, he was in on a nice pass breakup.
Painter had an incomplete to McBean, and looked like the throw wasn't there. Painter struggled the first quarter, he seriously needs to break that his senior year and play four strong quarters.
Painter went three and out, and Valentin was back for the kick. I don't think they were doing anything but fair catches because no one ran with the ball afterwards. Punting looked fair.
With Elliot behind center the offense moved very well. Nice pass to Chris Staats, and good handoff to Dierking followed by another nice pass to Dan from the backfield with some good YAC. Give the ball to Dierking! Dan looks like he picked up where he left off from last year, with improvement. On several plays he showed some very nice hands on catches. I always thought that helped tremendously with our offense. You can play it as a sixth receiver in the spread, an option in an option, or a safety valve on regular plays. The Colts have used it with some regularity with a lot of success.
Plue came in and played for the gold offensive line. There is gonna be no missing this guy when he steps on the field. I kid you not, he was a man amongst boys when he lined up. During the play, he got his hands well out in front of him to keep the d-lineman back. He did get beat by the DE coming around him on one play (DE still didn't get to the QB), but that's something he can learn. I hope to see him move inside maybe?
Joey had another nice pass to the sidelines to Panfill, who had awareness of where he was, keeping both feet in and picked up the first down. I think that could be a nice role for him to play, ala Standeford and Daniels.
On the defense, John Humphries had some very nice penetration to put some pressure
on the quarterback. Joey in turn scrambled well to get away from him, also showing some very nice moves and adequate speed when pressured. Greaves and Gooden (and somebody else) came on a nice blitz pattern and would have had Joey but he pulled off a nice little dump pass. The next play Joey hit Colton McKey all alone in the endzone.
Curtis took over the offense. On back-to-back passes, Jason Warner was right where he needed to be to break them up. This kid is finally going to get his shot, and I think he will be as advertised, the impact player fans have always hoped he would be. He's all over the field and he follows the ball, not the action.
Jared Crank came in and had a carry for a short gain. Biggest thing you notice about him is his size. He looks big back there behind the line (in comparison to our other backs), and he is a straight line, take-me-down-if-you-can, running back.
Mike Conway had more good coverage on Staats and broke up a nice pass play. McKey was a target on several pass plays, nice size and good hands. Waynelle Gravesande (coolest name in all of football) had a nice over the middle catch in traffic, another pass to Panfil that was incomplete and then a short pass off to Waynelle again. He pulled a great juke move that made the pursuit miss and whiff, then took off. One thing noted, the safety or defensive back closed on him and took him down, so for that play anyway, he didn't show any true break away speed.
Joey then ran a nice option for either the whole ten or close to it, good eye for the field and decent speed. Another handoff to Dierking for a gainer, and then a touchdown pass to Panfil in the end zone.
Curtis back in at quarterback. He had a handoff to Cory Sheets who took it four yards by picking his hole and then taking a couple of guys with him. An incomplete pass to Keith Smith (low ball and probably uncatchable) and then on a 3rd down play, to my MAN Jerry Wasikowski! Jer-REE! Jer-REE! Jer-REE! -- I wanna get shirts that say "Jerry's Kids". Unfortunately, not enough for a 1st down.
Royce took the punt back deep (nice kick) and again no return. Siller came in at quarterback and had a nice handoff to Crank for a pretty good carry. Then another handoff to Dierking for a 15 yarder! Picking the holes and running with authority. Siller then had a pretty good pass to Barbarett. A hand off to Crank for another four yarder.
At this point I'm pretty sure the ball went over (but I can't remember exactly). In any case, the next play was a pass to Roberto McBean, and then a long one to Joe Whitest. Jacelyn Taylor came in for a nice gainer and was stopped by Warner. Another pass to Joe Whitest that was broken up by what looked like a great play from Pender, but was ruled pass interference. Another pass to Whitest for a nice gainer, then another completion to Keith Smith.
My man Jerry Wasikowski (THROW THE BALL TO WASIKOWSKI!!!) Comes in as a blocking tight end. Handoff to Taylor, who hits the line. Jerry makes THE critical block that opens the hole and Taylor is off to the races on the 35 yard TD!!!
Jer-REE! Jer-REE! Jer-REE!
Next series Siller is back in. First play ... pick. Grover commented that Justin was maybe putting a little bit too much rainbow on his passes, but I couldn't tell if it was that, or the fact that Mike Conway was again in good position. In any case, Mike runs it back in from the plus 20 for a TD, tying up the ballgame.
Siller came back in and scrambled on the first play and showed his elusiveness. Handoff to Crank for a small gain, with good pressure coming from the defense. I think on the third play Siller got pressure and used good judgment in winging it to the sidelines. The ball went back over to black on downs.
Painter's first pass was to Valentin. Extremely nice hands, good catch, and pulled the ball in well. Next one was overthrown to Roberto McBean (may have been a route run too short, may have been Painter.) Next pass was a shoulda-coulda-been pick by Kevin Green, but he missed it. This was the play where the defensive end finally did get around Plue, but got to the quarterback too late to do anything about it. Plue had a guy coming on the inside and he over adjusted to stop him, and by the time he corrected the defensive end was past. Something that he will pick up on as he gets older and better. Seriously, the kid looks like he could stop two guys at a time, one with each bear paw.
Nice pass to Kyle Adams. Kyle has really good "churning legs", pushing forward after contact and picking up a few more yards. Colton McKey looked good at the tight end spot. Coupled with Kyle and my MAN Jerry Wasikowski and I think we are pretty well set there, if it takes three to replace Keller, so be it. Overall, looked like a lot of plays to the tight end. I don't know if that was designed or just a 2nd/3rd option.
Another great defensive play by Pender, who was all over the field. he deflected a pass to Valentin. Good pressure on Painter by the defense. Another pass to WASIKOWSKI! Jerry made the first half highlight reel on one that he reeled in and took care of while he was going down.
And that was the end of the first half. Second half and personal observations tomorrow.