If you were caught up in the Sugarland hoopla Saturday you may have missed the fact that a spring game appeared to have broken out before the concert on a 60 yard field. But seriously, let's talk about State's Maroon-White scrimmage Saturday and what we can and should take away from it.
First off, let me preface all below commentary with this thought: this was a spring game played two days after the team's real final scrimmage and this game was played on a 60 yard field. I'm not completely discounting anything that can be taken away from particular player's performances Saturday, it's just a thought to keep in mind.
The Maroon team, quarterbacked by starting QB Tyler Russell, defeated the White team Saturday afternoon 33-22. Russell let the ball fly all over the place Saturday, much from a 5-wide set, and finished with 312 yards passing on 24 of 43 completions. Russell, when given time, was highly effective throwing the ball, and utilized two main targets: slot receiver Jameon Lewis and youngster Joe Morrow. The Maroon team also featured starting RB LaDarius Perkins, who finished the day with 55 yards on 7 attempts, including an 11 yard TD to open the scoring for the game.
The White team, led by RFr. Dak Prescott, held its own, especially considering it featured more of the young players. The White team also featured one of the pleasant surprises on the day: RB Josh Robinson, who finished the day with 63 yards on 15 carries, including a 55 yard TD run where he absolutely left everyone else in the dust.
Full statistics for the game can be found here, courtesy of Brandon Marcello. Now we'll get down to what you really came here for: impressions taken away from the game. We have a few of them to share, and you can find them right below.
- It seems like hyped MSU receivers don't often live up to the billing, but after Saturday, that may be different in the case of RFr. Joe Morrow. Although Morrow did have a few early drops (which I would attribute to nervousness), he showed out, catching 6 balls for just under 100 yards (97). Morrow had the ball thrown his way a lot Saturday, and I suspect that Coach Mullen, and maybe even Tyler Russell, were testing Morrow to see how he would handle things for the first time in front of a crowd. Overall, I would say Morrow definitely didn't disappoint, and I can't wait to finally have a tall, go-to possession receiver dressed in maroon and white this fall.
- Dak Prescott did about like many of us thought he would Saturday: he made some mistakes, came around slowly, but overall showed us the talent that we thought was there. Prescott didn't have a pretty day numbers wise, which included 2 picks, but for a RFr. he held his own decently against that monster defensive line.
- Speaking of that monster defensive line, my goodness will they be good this fall. Corvell Harrison-Gay registered 3 sacks for the Maroon team Saturday, and seems to have really become a factor in the rotation for this fall. Shane McCardell, whom I always thought was a tad small for the line, looks like he has finally put on the weight to be able to hold his own at the defensive end position. The most exciting person to watch on the defensive line though wasn't the two previously mentioned guys, it wasn't even Eulls or Boyd. It was Quay Evans. The guy was in high school 4 months ago, and Saturday he was on a field with seasoned college players and dominating them at times. Quay may not be ready to start this fall, but the dude will definitely see some PT I would think on that defensive line rotation. He's already a big guy, and in addition he sports a neck roll, which too me is bad ass in an old school way and it's also quite intimidating.
- Denico Autry is fast, and quite tall. I think he needs just a bit more weight, but the dude is grease lightning on the outside edge. Can't wait to see what he can do this fall.
- Jameon Lewis appears to be headed for a breakout year, and maybe become the Percy Harvin type player we all expected Bumphis to be. That's not a knock on Chad: I really feel like he was asked to be a possession receiver when he's really a slot guy. But now that State has Morrow, it frees us guys like Bumphis and Lewis to be the speedsters they are: ducking and dodging people and using screen passes and inside slants to dart their way for yards. I think Morrow will open up some things for the smaller guys this fall in addition to providing some yards himself, and I think Lewis may be the guy who benefits most. He really is electric with the ball in his hands, and I can't wait to see him bust off a long TD catch this fall (if he can catch it first).
- Speaking of the receiver position, Johnthan Banks lined up at WR Saturday, and that really caught me off guard. It seems like I heard rumblings about that last fall, but I don't remember it ever coming to fruition. Well Saturday he trotted out on offense for the Maroon team, and did end up with one catch for 17 yards. I don't know if that was Mullen's idea or Banks, but it will be interesting to see if that is a package that is actually used this fall. definitely a wrinkle I didn't see coming.
- Even after losing Vick Ballard, it was quite evident Saturday that State will again have a full compliment of talented running backs for the fall. We all knew LaDarius would look good, and Nick Griffin, although mostly quiet on the day, still looks to fit that Ballard mold of running back. In addition to Perkins and Griffin though, are two good looking young RBs in Josh Robinson and Derrick Milton. Robinson is like a bowling ball at 5'9" and 215 lbs, but also has the speed to pull away from defenders, much like Perkins. Derrick Milton also looked very promising. It's somewhat funny that of course we would get a full compliment of RBs the year that we will probably sling the ball around more than run it. Oh well, it's still nice to have plenty of depth at that position though.
- This seems unimportant and not worth mentioning, but trust me this was the most important thing to come out of Saturday's scrimmage: NO ONE WAS INJURED. That was a huge sigh of relief, because spring games have been known to take out important players before key seasons in a game that's just for show.
That's all we have for right now on the game, but there will be much, much more coming up this week. Tomorrow and Wednesday we'll take what we saw both this spring in practice and in the spring game Saturday and we'll give you a preview of what we see out of both the offense and defense this fall. Also, we'll give you a look at what we anticipate the depth chart to look like post-spring practice, and we'll also talk about freshman coming in this fall who could also make an impact for the 2012 edition of the team.